Friday, March 31, 2006

BOOKS: Pevear Translation of The Three Musketeers

Richard Pevear, one-half of my favourite Russian translators, has a translation of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers coming out.

It's published by Viking (an imprint of Penguin Books) and slated for August 2006 release.

I really like this nice cover. But I already have a copy of The Three Musketeers! How many copies of the same book can one possibly have?

Canadian Authors to Check Out

The World Literature Tour: Canada over at The Guardian's culture culture Blog is still on. Remember to nominate your favourite Canadian authors if you have any.

These are some of the Canadian authors I intend to check out:
  1. Timothy Findley

  2. Mordecai Richler

  3. Alice Munro

  4. Mavis Gallant

I've also wanted to check out By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

More Michael Ondaatje.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

San Francisco 1906 Earthquake

This timeline is taken from

San Francisco, April 18, 1906.

  1. The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM.

  2. By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.

  3. By 8 AM they were patrolling the entire downtown area and searching for survivors.

  4. The second quake struck at 8:14 AM.

  5. By 10:05 AM the USS Chicago was on its way from San Diego to San Francisco; by 10:30 the USS Preble had landed a medical team and set up an emergency hospital.

  6. By 11 AM large parts of the city were on fire; troops continued to arrive throughout the day, evacuating people from the areas threatened by fire to emergency shelters and Golden Gate Park.

  7. St. Mary's hospital was destroyed by the fire at 1 PM, with no loss of life, the staff and patients having already been evacuated across the bay to Oakland.
  8. By 3 PM troops had shot several looters, and dynamited buildings to make a firebreak; by five they had buried dozens of corpses, the morgue and the police pistol range being unable to hold any more.

  9. At 8:40 PM General Funston requested emergency housing - tents and shelters - from the War Department in Washington; all of the tents in the U.S. Army were on their way to San Francisco by 4:55 AM the next morning.

  10. Prisoners were evacuated to Alcatraz, and by April 20 (two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago had reached San Francisco, where it evacuated 20,000 refugees.

Go Away!

Dorothy called me at work yesterday - I was about to leave the office. She needed to look for a book. So she decided to just call me on my handphone - at work.
"Why don't you call the store number?" I asked.

"I did. Not one pick up the phone."

Annoyed, but I decided to help. But her presumption was that I was willing to walk around the store looking for her books - when she is too lazy to make a trip down herself. I told her later to just call the store herself. I went home.

Why this attitude?

I have no problem helping out a friend for books - in fact I usually make an effort.

But Dorothy, you have no right to call yourself my friend.

Three years of silence, no "Happy Birthday," no "Happy New Year," no "Merry Christmas" - and suddenly you call me out of the blue when you needed help over something so trivial.

Love dies from neglect. Our friendship died years ago.

You crush my heart, you manipulated me - and let's not mention the mindfuck.

You knew what you were doing. But you were right, it happened because I allowed it.

But I promised myself, it will NEVER happen again.

You call us "deviants" - but you loathe yourself. You think of yourself as a freak. I do not think of myself like that.

I cherish myself. A pity you never did.

But I agree on this point - you are sado-masochistic. You are grotesque.

You are a vampire. You drained me but I survived.

Go away.

PS: I usually use initials to protect the innocent - but you are not innocent. Fuck you.

Naipaul Rants

He's an angry, bitter man.

The BBC New reports:
The author slates Dickens for his "repetitiveness" and cites the experience of reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey as a revelatory one.

"I thought halfway through the book, 'Here am I, a grown man reading about this terrible vapid woman and her so-called love life.'

You don't like Dickens and Austen - writers both more enduring and vastly more readable than you?

I spit on you.

BOOKS: Kiriyama Book Prize 2006

For Fiction
The Hummingbird's Daughterby Luis Alberto Urrea

For Non-Fiction:
The Reindeer People: Living With Animals and Spirits in Siberia by Piers Vitebsky's

The prize is given to authors whose works contribute to a better understanding of the peoples and nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Each writer receives $15,000 US.

Full story.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

QUIZ: I am Riot Grrl

Okay, I admit, it's close to home. Sleater-Kinney is on my mpeg player.

You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.

You're a Riot Grrl. You love the rockin' sound of loud women, and rightfully so. You're probably an activist of some sort. And yes, you're right, not all Riot Grrls are lesbians. Just most.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

HOMES: Author Page

A. M. Homes's author page:

Writers Do Make Big Bucks

Author A. M. Homes (Jack, The End of Alice, and this year's The Book Will Save Your Life) recently bought a three-bedroom house with a large porch in the Village of East Hampton. The house has a market rate of $1.3 million.

While a small part of me would like to scream "SELL-OUT!" - the rest of me (the majority) just thinks: "I want to be just like her."

Full story here (scroll down)

Monday, March 27, 2006

BOOKS: Homes's New Book

Book Forum write-up on A. M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life.

It's good, it's funny. It's...uplifting? Heh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Alberto Manguel Interview

Full Interview.

Atwood too Racy for School

A San Antonio-area school superintendent has pulled Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale from the Advanced Placement English curriculum because he found it too racy.

Lyman says he found some of the descriptions in the book too sexually explicit for high school students. That -- he says -- doesn't support state efforts to encourage sexual abstinence outside marriage.

Texan hicks.

You know, it would be funny, if it wasn't so pathetic.

Full story.

Books Waiting to Be Read

Recently received the following book proofs that I'm eager to read - but have no time:

1. Lost Cosmonaut David Kalder (Faber & Faber)

2. This Book Will Save Your Life A. M. Homes (Viking)

Pretty Pretty Hyped Up Books

I have the book proof for this debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. It's still perched there on my tower of unread books, threatening to tumble and kill me in my sleep.

It's been sold as a blend of Dave Eggers and Donna Tartt - the latter is the hook that I bit. I am weak, I confess - but why not give it a try? It's free.

Right now there's some discussion about Marisha Pessl before the book is released. You see, Pessl is young and pretty, an actress and model - everything that says "market-bait" for this world of ours.

It's definitely one of those questionable hyper-hyped books that makes me cringe - but does the effort in marketing necessarily discredit the writing?

Jessa Crispin of Bookslut mentioned in a article in The Book Standard:
I started reading Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics because the publicist had actually tabbed sections for me to read. It seemed like so much work to go through, I had to stop and take a look. And right now, I’m hooked.

I pity the publicist who had to do this kind of thing. But then, how often do book publicist go out to do something like this?

Sarah Weinman has this to say:
(Btw, for the humor-impaired, it's not that I am mocking Ms. Pessl's appearance or writing ability, just the publishing world's almost masochistic desire to let attractive packages, so to speak, dictate their buying guidelines -- even if the prospect of earning out is rather limited, to say the least.)

As a book buyer, I do see the depraved phenomena of how publishers go for the flash to sell books - while neglecting a lot of quality writers. I see the reality - that it's the flash that's going to catch the buzz. The buzz - in pretty, packaged form will sell.

POETRY: When Death Comes

When Death Comes
By Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Worn Out

Too many dates this month. I've worn out.

So, unless I'm meeting you for dinner, I'll be dropping you guys a note to cancel dates. Not that I don't like you (if I don't like you, there wouldn't be a date) - but I have reached my quota of socialisation. I'm feeling cranky and a little surly. I need SPACE before I start snapping at people.

Solitude. I need.

Rilke: You Who Never Arrived

You Who Never Arrived

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods
-- all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

5 Songs on "Repeat Track" on my MPEG Player

1. Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot"
2. Tracy Chapman's "Change"
3. Sarah McLachlan's "Fallen"
4. Patti Smith's "Gloria"
5. Joan Jett's "Crimson and Clover"


Taken from The Guardian, Tuesday March 21, 2006

We walk amongst you.

Culture Vulture: Canadian Literature

The Guardian Culture Vulture has finally gone Canadian.

I admit - there's very little I know about Canadian literature besides Margaret Atwood. But recently I've been introduced to fine writers like Robertson Davies (whom I admit, demands patience) and Ann-Marie MacDonald. Michael Ondaatje and Rohinton Mistry are also writers who have chosen to make Canada home.

This will be a good chance to find out what else is available in that part of North America that is not the United States.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Marvel and DC: Stealing "Super-heroes"

Cory Doctorow on Marvel and DC Comics trying to trademark "Super-heroes"
"Super-hero" isn't Marvel's property. They didn't invent the term. They aren't the only users of the term. It's a public-domain word that belongs to all of us. Adding a ™ to super-hero is a naked bid to steal "super-hero" from us and claim it for their own.

Link here.

Moore Says Strangers In Paradise No More

Okay, bad pun.

Strangers in Paradise comes to an end.

It will probably only affect the fans (like me. We followed the series for years.

Korean Drama Last Night

Horror of all horrors. I, who have made it a statement of pride of not watching television, found myself watching Channel U's telecast of the Korean Drama "大长今" last night with my parents!

It was family bonding night, with warm, blithe conversation. And we all adore the little girl with the BIG, BIG eyes who plays 长今, the protagonist.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Life, and Being Dismissed During Morning Coffee

You know one of those sms "dialogues" where you're obviously not on the same wave-length with the other party?

Was on my way to work this morning when a series of sms came in. A friend read a book and felt it's just so her. Mention of Dostoevsky's Underground Man, and the over-consciousness that somehow makes us unable to function in life.

I replied that life can be simple, but simple does not equate as easy. But I think somewhere my friend misunderstood me, and her reply was a little abrupt. I felt dismissed, that before she made an effort to understand my point, it was rejected as unworthy.

This is not the first time we had unpleasant exchanges like these. Though it still stings, life goes on.

I believe she thought I was giving a simplistic answer: that life can be categorized as "Yes," "No," and "Maybe."

I never said that. What I meant was, we claim life is complicated and difficult, because we are not courageous enough to accept or to sacrifice in order to make life better.

We blame the circumstances of our existence on everything else, never really stopping to consider that our choices complicate the circumstances itself.

It is not as simple as "we can't choose." Rather, we did not want the options presented to us. Or, we lack the imagination or power of will to create alternatives.

Refusing to choose, is also a choice.

I have said, simple does not mean easy. Simplifying your life takes long term commitment, stamina and immense strength. It's the hardest thing in the world to do.

In sms, I hate long answers. But in general, I hate long debates.

BOOKS: Future of Ice

Future of Ice
The Future of Ice
by Gretel Ehrlich
New York: Vintage, 2005
[18/03/2006 ~ 20/03/2006]

Gretel Ehrlich is a poet, nature writer, as well as a practicing Buddhist of many years. I first came across her essay on the spirituality of mountain and ice in an issue of Shambhala Sun.

From that article, I took down this quote:
"A broken heart is an open heart."

Something about this terse statement resonant with me. Later I found out she survived a cardiac arrest induced by a lightning strike. Yes, this woman was struck by lightning - twice - and lives to write a book about it.

Her writing is lyricism and contemplation. It reminds me of Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver. My growing respect for nature writing comes from writers like Ehrlich, Dillard and Oliver, who have shown me the spiritual inhabiting the physical space.

When Erhlich received a phonecall from her publisher, asking if she is willing to write a book about "winter and climate change, and what would happen if we became 'deseasoned,' if winter disappeared as a result of global warming." She said she would think about it.

The result is Future of Ice, which came out of Gretel Ehrlich's devotion to nature - the cold places, the high places - and the living things in-between. It is a mediation on weather, geography and consciousness, "what the Tibetans call a mixing of mind and space."

"Too few of us remember how to be heartbroken. Or why we should be. We don't look, because heartbreak might imply failure. But the opposite is true. A broken heart is an open heart, like a flower unfolding from its calyx, the one nourishing the other."

I have too many books still unread - but when I saw it in the library last night, I could not pass it up.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

BOOKS: Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young PoetLetters to a Young Poet
By Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translation by Stephen Mitchell)

[17/03/2006 ~ 18/03/2006]

Letters to a Young Poet is a small book on the correspondence between a Rainer Maria Rilke and an aspiring poet, Franz Xaver Kappus. This exchange of letters began in 1903 thanks to a missive that Kappus sent to Rilke, and continued for many years, until 1908.

Eloquent and personal, Rilke's meditations on the creative process, the nature of love, and the importance of solitude offer a wealth of spiritual and practical guidance for everyone.

Life will never be easy - but as Rilke tells us, it is the difficulties that nourish us.
Don't think that the person who is trying to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes give you pleasure. His life has much trouble and and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words.

BOOKS: The Hummingbird's Daughter

Urrea's the Hummingbird's DaughterI've come across some good reviews about this title by Mexican author Luis Alberto Urrea. It took more than 20 years of research for him to write this book - based on the legends about his great-aunt, Teresita - a faith healer, mystic and messiah figure of the Mexican-Indians - the 'Saint of Cabor'.

At 16, Teresita was raped, lapsed into a coma and apparently died. At her wake, though, she sat up in her coffin and declared that it was not for her. Pilgrims came to her by the thousands, even as the Catholic Church denounced her as a heretic; she was also accused of fomenting an Indian uprising against Mexico and, at 19, sentenced to be executed.

I've been trying to expand my exposure to literature from around the world. This book just seems too interesting to pass up.

It has sprinkles of humour, but it's not Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in case anyone's wondering.

'Her powers were growing now, like her body. No one knew where the strange things came from. Some said they sprang up in her after the desert sojourn with Huila. Some said they came from somewhere else, some deep inner landscape no one could touch. That they had been there all along.'


Friday, March 17, 2006

MOVIES: Russian Dolls

'Russian Dolls', sequel to 'Spanish Apartment' and you so have to watch it!

Les Poupées Russes [The Russian Dolls]

Cédric Klapisch

Romain Duris .... Xavier
Kelly Reilly .... Wendy
Audrey Tautou .... Martine
Cécile De France .... Isabelle Wauquaire

Cesar Awards 2006 – Best Supporting Actress (Meilleur second rôle féminin)
- Won (Cecile De France)
Cesar Awards 2006 – Best Supporting Actress (Meilleur second rôle féminin)
- Nominated (Kelly Reilly)
Cesar Awards 2006 - Best Editing (Meilleur montage)
– Nominated (Francine Sandberg)

From the Cathay website:

The Sequel to Spanish Apartment. Five years after their summer together in Barcelona, Xavier (Romain Duris), William (Kevin Bishop), Wendy (Kelly Reilly), Martine (Audrey Tautou) and Isabelle (Cecile de France) reunite for a wedding in St Petersburg, their carefree days behind them, and now close to thirty. Xavier is a struggling writer who dreams of having the perfect career and the perfect woman. He is still in touch with his ex-girlfriend Martine, but is living with Isabelle , now a successful gay stockbroker. When he has to find a British writer to work with him, he goes to live and work with Wendy in London. Dividing his time between London and Paris, where he is ghostwriting the memoirs of a sexy and spoilt 24 year old supermodel, Celia (Lucy Gordon), Xavier struggles with his attraction to both women, slowly realizing he must grow up.

This is the movie I've been waiting to watch. A sequel to L'Auberge Espagnole [The Spanish Apartment]. Basically, it's a tale of a 30 year old who has not quite come to terms with the emotional responsibility of growing up. Ironically resonant with my own life, especially with the BIG 3-0 coming like a looming truck. It's my birthday movie. So what if I don't actually watch it on the date itself? Yay! ;p

Opening 23 March 2006

New Majestic Hotel

Just saw the website for New Majestic Hotel.

Nice. Might just get a couple of girl-friends and just hang out there over the weekend.

The Daily Dharma : March 16, 2006

From Tricycle
We make every effort to keep things as they are, because human beings, alone, lament transience. Yet no matter how we grieve or protest, there is no way to impede the flow of anything. If we but see things as they are and flow with them, we may find enjoyment in transience. Because human life is transient, all manner of figures are woven into its fabric.

-- Shundo Aoyama, Zen Seeds

I'm Back

Huh. As you can tell, I'm back again. There was some connection problems a while back, and I couldn't for the life of me post ANYTHING.

I'm back.

You know, it's something of an anti-climax.

Oh well.


Can't post. Oh dear. Censorship? Heh.

Problem Uploading

Is this the fear of a blogger? That somehow I can no longer upload anything - or edit a previous post?

Library and What You Read

I've been trying to cut down on my book purchases these days. It's part of the "Grand Plan" to save money. (Reaching 30, and I haven't really set aside my retirement fund.)

So I've been going to the library, which is a little inconvenient as NLB is hardly up to date on the latest titles.

But it helps me save - and as a friend reminds me, it's better for the environment; The irony for this little bookseller.

You get a little receipt of your book loans, printed on filmsy thermal paper. I keep the receipt religiously, so that I do not forget the due dates for my library books. But before I return the books, I make it a point (just as religiously) of disposing the receipt.

I don't like the idea of leaving information of my name and the books I've borrowed in the books that do not belong to me. I don't know why. Yet I do enjoy finding the little receipt between the pages from the previous person. I alway read the list they have checked out - this person who just borrowed the same book I am interested in - what else do they read?

I believe what you read reveals much about you. Perhaps that is why I do not enjoy revealing my library loans to strangers. (And apparently in the US, the FBI is able to access the library records of US citizens - all for the sake of the Homeland Security, of course. It is naive to believe we have actually made any progress in freedom through the centuries.)

I once saw this slip between the pages of a serious literary title. It belonged to a female. Her receipt shows she also checked out a few titles from Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. I was amused - but oddly respectful of her choices. A few friends have cried out, after reading the Shopaholic novels - "This is the story of my life!"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What Do I Consume?

A quick glance at the lists on the right will show you that this year at least, I probably spent more time reading than watching films.

And, I watch more films on DVD than films within cinema.

A while back, a friend asks for some feedback on why I choose not to join the local film society. Firstly, I don't see any perceivable advantage of spending $90 a year to join a film society. I did spend about $20 a year to join the premium membership of the National Library - because it allows me access to the DVD collection of library@esplanade. With the ready availability of DVDs these days, a greater variety of films are now accessible to people like myself.

The Picturehouse is opening soon - ironicaly, on my birthday. I will definitely be checking it out. However, for the local film society, I remain indifferent.

Has the film society really made that much effort to bring film-lovers together? I have not seen the efforts. While they have been working to bring in quality films that are not quite so readily available - in terms of building a community, where film lovers can come together and share passion, I have not seen the effort.

The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta'

New York Times, about Alan Moore and V for Vendetta

Alan Moore, as he described himself:
"I am what Harry Potter grew up into," he said, "and it's not a pretty sight."

Book List for 2007

I'm not even halfway done with the current 100 Books To Read - but already I am planning my list for 2007.

It helps me put back some of the titles I took out earlier - so that I will eventually get to them. Classics like The Great Gatsby, which I believe I should read - if only to determine if I like it.

While this year's list is eclectic, there seems to be a theme for 2007: Travel.

For someone who does not travel much, I consume many travelogues.

But perhaps this is precisely why.

Which Literature Classic Are You? II

Some of my friends did the quiz, and here are some of their results:
Oscar Wilde: The Portrait of Dorian Gray.
You are a horror novel from the world of dandies, rich pretty boys, art and aesthetics, and intellectual debates between ethical people and decadent pleasure-seekers. You value beauty and pleasure but realize their dangers, as well.

Shakespeare: Sonnets.
Everyone has heard of you, and almost everybody can find something touching in you. You are calm and control yourself, even though your wisdom and your messages are no lesser than those of others.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings.
You are entertaining and imaginative, creating whole new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you have a whole league of imitators, none of which is quite as
profound as you are. Stories and songs give a spark of joy in the
middle of your eternal battle with the forces of evil.

T.S. Eliot: The Wasteland.
You are a desperate cry to God, moulded in intricate word-craftmanship. Your language is controlled, but inside, you feel empty and are not content with your life. You see both the world and your inner self as a waste land: nothing good can come out of it anyway. People find you difficult to understand but admire you nevertheless.

Virginia Woolf: Orlando.
You are a challenge, for outer events, the outside world, the time etc. play no importance to you. Your focus is in writing, in gender issues, and inside your own head. Self-analysis and exploration of yourself as well as the outer world hold great importance to you.

Count as of this morning:
1 Picture of Dorian Gray
2 Shakespeare's Sonnets
3 Name of the Rose
1 Lord of the Rings
1 Flower of Evil
1 T. S. Eliot's Wasteland
1 Orlando

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Places I Must See Before I Die

Was in bed last night with my journal and my fountain pen. The list just popped into my head.

  1. Tibet

  2. New Orleans

  3. San Francisco

  4. Cambodia, especially Angkor Wat

  5. Egypt

  6. Turkey

Which literature classic are you?

Did the quiz, and I never actually got around to finishing the book. Heh.

The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose.

You are a mystery novel dealing with theology,
especially with Catholic vs liberal issues.
You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly,
feeling that learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

What I Am Currently Reading

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am currently re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird. And I don't want it to stop. :)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Let's Not See Each Other Again

March and September have always been the busy months of my social calendars. March is my birthday month, and my life is heavily doused with the Virgo influence (August-September).

But this year, I'm attempting to simplify things.

Last Saturday (11 March 2006) I met the Brat for lunch. Actually, I ate and she had coffee.

Last Saturday a classmate from my Secondary School got married. Church ceremony in the morning, dinner in the evening. I wasn't there for either.

I actually like The Bride - my ex-classmate. She has always been kind to me, and the fact she still invited me after all these years of absence was thoughtful.

So why didn't I go?

Reason #1: One of my former manager will be there. My former manager is first cousin to The Bride. I do not wish to see my former boss.

There is truth to Six Degrees of Separation - you're bound to have mutual acquaintances, especially if you date your friends.

Reason #2: EX #2's sister is good friend with The Bride, so they will be helping out with the wedding. It tortures me to have to be nice to EX #2, someone I no longer like very much.

Why did I go out with him in the first place? Rebound relationship. On hindsight I had always known he's too self-absorbed to love anyone but himself. He was the safest, least guilty and cleanest break-up I EVER had.

I don't want to speak to him again. Actually, it's more like I don't want to have to listen to his self-pitying, ego-centric rambling anymore. I can think of 1000 better ways of wasting my time - all of them painful - but all less dreadful than his personality.

Reason #3: EX #1 - first love, if we can call it that. How I feel now is very different. Too many unresolved issues.

I don't think we should see each other again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Asia Argento: That J. T. Leroy Thing

According to, Asia Argento shoots her mouth off at the Q&A following the screening of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. All this following revelations that J. T. Leroy is really a 40 year old woman named Laura Albert.
To heavily paraphrase: "What is truth? Am I telling you the fucking truth right now? How do you know what the fucking truth is?" She then talked about her personal experience with J.T. and how she had no idea he didn’t exist until everyone else found out about it. "I mean, I slept with J.T. I touched his pussy. I just thought they make great pussies these days. I don’t know. I couldn’t see, it was dark. He said he was on hormones, that was why the boobs were there. I just thought they make great pussies nowadays."

I have to stop reading trash like these online. But gawd, Asia Argento is just so much fun!

Asia ArgentoHere's a picture of the tattooed Italian star. What is it with me and tattooed bad girls? ;p

SMACKDOWN: Nuns vs Librarians

Nuns versus Librarians in a Spelling Bee Showdown.


It's so true it's surreal.

What are they saying about each other?

"Librarians give us a scare," said Sister Mary Carol Hellmann, who says she's been brushing up on Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish root words to prepare for the bee. Some of the other sisters say they use the Internet to practice.

"They have that strong Latin background," said Cindy Brown, director of the Boone County Library. Brown said her spelling team is made up of "voracious readers with a certain verbal attitude."

I'm having too much fun with this snippet.

I need a life.

Via Blog of a Bookslut

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Norman Mailer: On Sex and Deodorant interviewed Norman Mailer, and the guy's a firecracker.
Norman: That's true, but it's a huge distortion. Look back to the court of Louis XIV. They bathed every three or four weeks, so you got the raunchiest crotch odors mixed with some very special perfumes. And of course, they were screwing in every bush, not to mention every bedroom in Versailles. I'm just saying, the kinkiness now, whatever it is — being hung upside down while getting a blowjob? The point is, it's all in search of a lost smell.

BOOKS: Reading "The English Patient"

I am re-reading The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. I have a copy of my own (Yes, yes, because of the movie! Don't judge me!;p) - but could not find it. So I'm reading a library copy instead.

It's another one of those moments when the movie affects your reading of the book. As I follow Hana through the novel, I see the frail, tragic beauty of Juliette Binoche in my mind's eye.

I came across this passage, where Hana is reading a book from the abandoned villa she is living in with the English patient:
This was the time in her life that she fell upon books as the only door out of her cell. They became half her world. She sat at the night table, hunched over, reading of the young boy in India who learned to memorize diverse jewels and objects on a tray, tossed from teacher to teacher - those who taught him dialect those who taught him memory those who taught him to escape the hypnotic.

She is reading Kim!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat


A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.

Full story here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

OSCARS: Crash? My ASS!

How the hell could anyone award Crash Best Picture? It was such a watered down feel good shit of a movie!

To Cuddle A Mockingbird

From The Times, 3 March 2006
By Ben MacIntyre

With the recent revelation that most readers prefer the tragic endings, McIntyre rewrites great literature to pump in popular sentiments.

For Pride and Prejudice:
Pride and Prejudice could be rendered less saccharine by introducing the scene where Darcy explains to Elizabeth that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune still in want of a wife is obviously gay, so he is moving to Tangiers to live with Wickham.

My personal favourite:
Godot finally turns up.

Full article here.

Brevity and Telegram

From The Times, 4 March 2006
By Ben MacIntyre

'No invention more clearly showed the benefits of brevity than the telegram'


Full article here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Books On Loan

There are moments in your life when you are embarrassed by the stuff you have borrowed and not returned. I've taken stock of the books & DVDs I've borrowed, and I hope these are the only things than have stayed unreturned for more than 3 months:

Jack by A. M. Homes
In A Country of Mothers by A. M. Homes

Blindness by Jose Saramago
The Passion of Joan of Arc DVD Directed by Carl TH Dreyer

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian (on loan from last year!)

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (Which I borrowed just after we graduated, so it's been on my shelf for more than 6 years - but that's more due to loss of contact than anything else)

Breakfast At Tiffany's and Romantic Comedies

I watched Breakfast At Tiffany's over the weekend, and was charmed by the kooky Holly Golightly - played with oddball grace by Audrey Hepburn. I wonder if there is any actress today that come close to embodying this state of grace and stylishness? Cate Blanchett? Yes, she played a queen and an elven queen - but will we, twenty years later, use Cate Blanchett as a byword and symbol for elegance?

Also, I was not prepared for the cynicism in Breakfast At Tiffany's. George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn play characters who are essentially selling their affections for cash. Holly Golightly wants to marry into money. She beams when she laid eyes on short and ugly Rusty Trawler ("He's the nineth richest man in American under the age of 50!" she declares to her friend Paul Varjak) She also charges men $50 for every trip to the pwoder room. (I never learn what was involved in the powder room. I presumed it's a code for sexual impropriety). And Paul Varjak (played by George Pappard) is a writer "sponsored" by a rich man's wife (Patricia Neal).

I expected a romantic comedy, and this being a movie shot in the 1960s, I expected an innocence. Surely we are the age that has more cause for material cynicism?

But no - this is a story by Truman Capote, and if you believe the movie, he was the tin man who never got his heart. Everyone in Breakfast At Tiffany's is caught up in money for affections and the best that could be said of Holly Golightly is that while she's a "phony", she's a "real phony." The love affair between Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak is the exception to the rest of the world. At the end, while it ends with "Moon River" in the soundtrack, and the quinessential kiss in the rain, it's doesn't sugar-coat love enough; it doesn't make you want to fall in love, or believe in love.

I don't recall many current romantic comedy that dares to say these things so upfront.

On a slightly different note, after the demise of the Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks partnership, we don't have many great on-screen couples anymore. Now, Kate and Leopold was beautiful because you could fall in love with Hugh Jackman; I would buy butter from that man - but I wasn't quite convinced a stud-muffin like Jackman would fall for Meg Ryan.

Who today, could fill the shoes of the king and queen of romantic comedies? Ashton Kutcher? I don't get him. I am uncharmed by him. Drew Barrymore was adorable in 50 First Dates, but one shouldn't hang around Adam Sandler too much if you want to be taken seriously. But I admit I loved Spanglish, and the ending was satisfying - even if Adam Sandler never got the girl.

We need to find our romantic stars again. Not just pretty boys and girls that look good, but actual adults that fall in love onscreen beautifully and sincerely, and make you forget - just for the length of the film at least - that love may not always be innocent and pure.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lesbian Aesthetic

A friend emailed me this recently:

hey, was just thinking...

when i read those poems by carol ann duffy, and also
when i listen to tracy chapman, it occurs to me to
wonder if they are lesbian, and they turn out to be.
but thing is that what they write, or at least their
stuff that i have come across, is not specially
lesbian-ish or out-ish, but there's something there to
make me wonder about them. does this mean there is
some sort of lesbian aesthetic, or at least some sort
of sentiment in the work of lesbian artists that can
be identified/ are characteristic of them? come to
think of it, k d lang as well.

what do you think?

it's not a theory lah. just wondering out loud. or
rather, electronically.

it seems that there might be leh. i mean, like
"smitten, straining your tea" is not an image that
someone would write about a guy? or rather, the tone
of that piece is not something one would use to
describe feelings for a guy, and not something a guy
would write about a girl either. what thinks you?

me, being oh too "eng" again.

I think it's just her gaydar...

BOOKS: Oddest Literary Title

Taken from The Guardian

The winner of the Bookseller magazine award for the year's oddest book title is the US volume, People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders - and What to Do About It, by Gary Leon Hill, which is said to have sold 15,000 copies.

The runner-up was Rhino Horn Stockpile Management: Minimum Standards and Best Practices from East and Southern Africa, by Simon Milledge.

Another contender was Nailing: Best Practice Guidance.

I'm trying to keep a straight face right now.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

DVD: Northern Exposure: Cicely

I finally got my Season 3 Northern Exposure DVDs back. Yay!

Northern Exposure is a pleasure trip to nostalgia. A quirky, delightful comedic drama - it never got the ratings it deserves. But it did earn a respectable cult status among TV viewers.

It used to be shown late at night on Sundays. That was way back during my Junior College days. We would stay up late to watch it on Sunday nights, and talk about the show in school on Monday mornings.

The episode that stayed closest to our hearts then was the last episode of Season 3, "Cicely". Back in our dreamy school days, we sighed when we recalled the "Cicely" episode. It was a simple but beautiful story of the town's founders: Roslyn and Cicely. They rode into town one day in 1909, in an automobile. They were strong-minded liberal women with a vision. That day they decided the dirt-hole Alaskan town shall be their site for the "Paris of the North."

A few things, minor details stayed with me for that episode. One of it was the bandit Kit (played by John Corbett, who's also Chris in Northern Exposure) who counts down with the basic tenets of Hegelian dialectics. ("Thesis! Antithesis! Synthesis!")

You know, I haven't heard that for a while. :)

But last night when I was watching the episode, I was once more moved by the words that touched me more than ten years ago:
"One person can have a profound effect on another.
And two people -
Well, two people can work miracles.
They can change a whole town.
They can change the world."

They don't make shows like this anymore.

Northern Exposure, we loved you well

[ Northern Exposure. We loved you well. ]

BOOKS: "To Kill A Mockingbird" B4 U Die

From BBC News

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been voted the book adults should read before they die.

The survey of librarians to mark World Book Day came out in favour of The Bible in second place and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in third place.

I'm usually skeptical of these votes, but when the results show something I like, I'm always willing to use statistics to make my point.

I am a social scientist. Hee. *wide grin*

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Best of Singapore Erotica

Someone I Know has a story published in Best of Singapore Erotica, edited by L. Q. Pan and Richard Lord. It's the first compendium of erotic writings from our island-state, as far as I know.

If you're interested, it should be coming out May 2006. Check out your friendly bookstores for it.

As for the Someone I Know, she's been telling everyone NOT to read it. I think she's genuinely embarrassed by it.

Of course, everyone will now dive straight into her story first.

More Logo Parody

Kill Bill

Yes, you've probably seen my hoodie with the Kill Bill parody, featuring Tux the Penguin. Tux is the mascot for Linux, a free source OS waging the good fight against the dictatorship of Microsoft (Kill Bill, geddit?)

Why a penguin as the icon of technological discontent?
Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen a angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.
~ Linus Torvalds

I really like 'em penguins. ;p

Starbucks vs Cartoonist

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors has voted to support cartoonist Kieron Dwyer in his legal defense against lawsuits by Starbucks Corporation. You know, the coffee place.

Starbucks is suing Dwyer for copyright and trademark infringement of its "mermaid" logo, a parody of which appeared on the cover of Dwyer's Lowest Common Denominator #0.


You know, I actually like the parody logo. This kind of bullshit makes me want to quit Starbucks coffee. So, the next time you guys want to meet me for coffee, can we do Spinelli's instead? Thanks.

Full story here