Monday, June 27, 2005

I Really Like You

i'll buy you mangoes baby
your favorite fruit
i'll shave everything baby
i'll press my suit
i'll find that song by perry como you like to sing
i'll eat your tv dinners
and wear you cigar ring
do you think that I can persuade
don't make me fade because

CHORUS:

i really like you baby
i want to see you baby
i really like you baby
i want to be you baby

i'll gladly make you
my first tatoo
you and me forever
in red and black and blue
i'll let you drive my car
i'll even paint my eyes
forget about all my friends
and tell outrageous lies
do you think I can persuade
don't make me fade because

- Melissa Etheridge

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I concede

Ok, so I was wrong- Batman Returns is not the best movie in the franchise. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what movie we just came back from, and it was awesome. Everything a Batman movie ought to be, and then some...

My grouse with the other Batman movies is that they weren't dark enough, nor faithful enough to the spirit of what Batman, as well as Gotham stands for. Batman Returns was great for me because it had all the requisite elements- a brooding Batman, two (well, three if you count Catwoman) deliciously campy villians, enough sexual tension to power a small city, and the whole circus-clown-carnival thing was an inspired touch of perverse tragicomedy. One of the things I remember Joel Schumacher saying when he was interviewed about Batman Forever was that the first two Batman movies were too funereal, and that it was time for Batman to have some fun. Hello? And Batman is called the Dark Knight because he was meant to spread cheer, merriment and a huge doses of Prozac to the citizens of Gotham? That's the job of a deranged purple dinosaur. Besides, would you trust a man who then went on to make the god-awful Batman and Robin?

Now Batman Begins is a whole other kettle of fish (or bats- choose your own non-mammal); perfectly gothic, sumptuously dark and oh so elemental as Batman was always meant to be. You don't watch Batman movies for the acting (although I love Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine is so deadpan funny. Katie Holmes on the other hand should just stay at home, have Tom Cruise's babies and quite acting...)- it's the storyline, plot and feel. And who better than Christopher Nolan whose Memento and Insomnia are some of the most gripping narratives I've seen committed to film (so what if Insomnia wasn't written by him? He made Al Pacino a real actor again...). Batman Begins is Batman as it should be- a phantasmogoria of madness, fear, and a palpable sense of unsalvageable human brokeness all contained in a dystopic city so foul and sordid, it's almost alluring.

Those of you who were as hooked as I was to Batman: The Animated Series know exactly what I mean. Now that is one cartoon that is not meant for kids, not by a long shot. It dived deep into the psychology of both Batman and the villians at Arkham. I'll never forget one episode about Harley Quinn trying to lead a normal life after being released from the asylum. Things don't work out of course but in that 30 minutes, the show unearthed Harley the human- the girl- and not just an insane jester with the crazy hat. Simply inspired...

Can you imagine if Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan came together to make the next Batman film? Oh man...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Why we love KCRW.org

Because we are poor graduate students on a shoestring budget who cannot afford to pay for tickets to watch live concerts. Nic Harcourt is our savior and Morning Becomes Eclectic is our favorite online radio show because we can watch all our favorite acts without having to give up the comfort of our house or the luxury of free wireless with a cup of coffee. I love the sound of intimate acoustic sets- they're about as good, if not sometimes better than watching them live on stage. And some of the shows have the artistes performing covers of their favorite acts. So cool...

Archived shows:
1) Travis
2) Starsailor
3) Grant-Lee Phillips
4) The Thrills
5) Trash Can Sinatras
6) Damien Rice
7) Rachel Yamagata
8) Sleepy Jackson
9) Air
10) The Cardigans
11) Keane
12) Sonic Youth
13) The Finn Brothers
14) The Polyphonic Spree
15) Badly Drawn Boy
16) Pink Martini
17) Wilco
18) American Music Club
19) Rufus Wainwright
20) Arcade Fire
21) Aqualung
22) Ed Harcourt
23) The Decemberists
24) Josh Rouse
25) Aimee Mann
26) Athlete
27) Feist
28) Ben Lee

And coming up soon are Sufjan Stevens and Stephen Malkmus. Watch out for them!

Game over

Oh well, it was great while it lasted. It's over. Now it's back to their day jobs. Oh wait, they don't have day jobs...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Hair"rowing

My husband is a dear. I can't believe he still loves me after what I did.

I cut his hair.

One moment we were laughing at the prospect of opening a makeshift barber in our basement, the next, I'm standing there with the $9.99 haircutting kit in my hand and tears streaming down my face. A nick here, a rough cut there, in a matter of minutes, I had totally and irrevocably butchered his hair. The only way out of the avant garde asymmetrical tribute to David Bowie (the '80s him minus the make-up) was to take it ALL off, and so I did. So now Jude looks like a cross between Ed Harris and our friend Nathan.

It isn't that he looks bad- in fact, it's kinda cool- but it was really very stressful thinking I was this close to making my husband look like he had just undergone chemotherapy. Jude's really sweet- he just keeps going on about how little shampoo he needs to use now and how breezy it is in summer.

I would never let Jude cut my hair, but if I ever did, I promise I'll be this nice to him too...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Game 5

I've never been a sports fan. The closest I got to even being in the vicinity of pretending to be interested in sports of any sort was when I was a rugby groupie in junior college (yes, I'm shallow like that. I am the same person who used to watch tennis for Goran Ivanesevic and soccer for Patrick Berger...) And now I'm married to a former rugby player of course.

So it was actually quite exhilirating to watch the closing minutes of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs. The last 5.9 seconds were particularly nail-biting. And then we lost. Although it was close one (95-96), the Spurs were clearly a stronger team. Better defense and an all-round tighter game. The Pistons? Too flamboyant. All style, little substance, and a tad complacent about being the defending champions if you ask me.

Today was the last home game for them too, so with the next two games being played on Spurs home-ground, looks like whatever glimmer of hope that had been ignited by our winning of Games 3 & 4 just got whooshed.

*Sigh*... should have stuck to doing the laundry tonight.

Lazy Weekend

Jude called it living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I just call it sheer summer indulgence: 10-hour sleep till 12.30pm, a leisurely lunch in front of the TV, back to nap at 2pm till 5.30pm, shopping at Target, dinner at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, coffee and dessert at Zingermans' and a guilty pleasure movie at 11.25 at night. We only got home at 2am last night, and without a tinge of guilt whatsoever. It was absolutely sublime.

And today- ha! Slept in till 11am and then got ready for a BBQ party we were having at our backyard with some of our friends and their kids. It was totally Babies R'Us meets the Big Cook-Out man... What we discovered today:
1) We have a whole patch of mint growing outside our house. Guess who's going to be making vats of mint iced tea right through summer??
2) Adding half a cup of cold water to your ground beef makes the juicest burger patties this side of MacDonaldland...
3) Children are orally-fixated: Marshmallows. Chocolates. Plastic. Dad's trousers.
4) You do not spray vegetable spray onto the grill directly. Ask Jude.
5) Toasted marshmallows and fruit skewers with double chocolate sauce... Heaven.

And now that we have our own grill- Jude can re-live his Aussie fantasies of throwing anything and everything onto the "barbie". All we need is year-round sunshine and a stretch of blue sandy beach and we'll be home.

Thanks for coming guys- it was a blast!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Nick Hornby



Yup, yup, that's us with Nick Hornby!! By a sheer quirk of fate, we were in Chicago the weekend of a kezillion festivals including the Printers Row Book Fair. Nick Horby was going to read from his latest book, "A Long Way Down" and there was also going to be an interview with him. But we got so carried away shopping we missed the reading. Hurried down to Printers Row just in time to buy the book and get in a block-long line for his autograph. I love Nick Hornby- not many people would consider him a serious fiction writer but he's wonderful because he writes with so much heart, and he's funny as *$#%@! "High Fidelity" is my favorite (Jude's too- a crash course in love, life and music) and "A Long Way Down" looks like it's got a lot of potential (I read about a chapter of it while waiting in line. It was a really surreal experience actually- reading a book written by an author whose books you enjoy, and who you're going to meet very soon if only the forty-seven other blokes in front of you would hurry and not have bought five copies of the book each for themselves, their relatives, and one to be auctioned off on eBay one day I suspect...)

Predictably, we didn't get to speak much to him- the poor guy looked tired (he must have hung around for three hours more after his reading just to autograph all those books), but happy. He refused to cut the line at any point and promised to sign as long as there were people waiting. That was really the highlight of my day- well, the shopping was great (finally got the kate spade wallet of my dreams at 50% off!!) and the company was even better, but meeting Nick Hornby was just about as awesome as it gets :) Some other writers I'd love to meet (in no particular order):
1) Jeffrey Eugenides
2) A.S. Byatt
3) Salman Rushdie
4) Kazuo Ishiguro
5) Gabriel García Márquez
There's definitely more, and this is not counting the dozen others who are no longer living. Oh man, and don't get me started on poets...

By the way, we've posted the Chicago photos up. Check them out!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Coming out

I'm a closet geek. At about 11.32am this morning, as I went through the statistics assignment I have to complete by tomorrow, it struck me. Hard. I realized that I was actually excited about getting started with it. It was a kind of faint exhiliration accompanied by a strange perverse rush. I have officially achieved dorky geekdom. It's not so much the course which excites me (if I don't see another Greek notation again, I really wouldn't care, and no, I do not dervie any real pleasure from writing computer codes in Unix) but the whole prospect of research and delving into something I don't know anything about yet but will soon. It's like standing on the precipice of unknown knowledge and tingling my toes, waiting to dive in...

So anyway, back to kindergarten retention and how it affects children differently depending on the type of kindergartens they attend. Then we'll be off to Chicago for the weekend with our dear friend Felicia who's visiting from Singapore! Jude got us an obscene steal on Priceline- $150/night at the swanky Westin, right next to the Chicago River. And there's the annual Chicago Blues' Festival, the Art Institute, and Millennium Park.

I'm way ready...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Running Tracks

I can't remember how it was like to exercise without the iPod. How I managed to numb the rising strain and control the raging palpitations before my little friend came along is beyond me. We ran through Nichols Arboretum today- painful on the one hand because of the dastardly sun (I can't imagine that just 6 weeks ago, this place was snowing...) but also strangely cathartic (we who run out of compulsion rather than pleasure find all sorts of words to justify and authenticate the pain we put ourselves through). So, the tracks which soothed my straining body today:
1) Photobooth- Death Cab for Cutie (3:46)
2) I Only Said- My Bloody Valentine (5:34)
3) It's The End of the World- R.E.M (4:04)
4) Gamble Everything for Love- Ben Lee (3:21)
5) You Got the Style- Athlete (3:25)
6) I Missed the Glance- The Sea & Cake (4:03)
7) Women and Men- Josh Rouse (5:06)
8) Yahweh- U2 (4:23)

Hmm... I think I need to create a playlist of songs specifically for these moments of self-flagellation. Maybe a playlist of only Basement Jaxx tracks...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Green Tea


 


 

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the newest addition to our family, Ocha. As you can see from the pictures above, she's all shiny, happy and new :) We were really tired of dealing with second hand car salesmen and decided to go to the Hyundai dealer instead. She's got 4 more years of warranty on all her parts and that'll stop the heamorrhaging of money for repairs and parts. I have only ever driven wrecks in my life. In fact my previous car was lovingly named "Deathtrap" by both friends and family. So Ocha is welcome change and she looks set to be a member of our family for a long time to come.

jude

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Car woes

It's sad when people live up to the negative stereotypes of them- one's faith in fellow human beings compel you to want to believe that people can be better than what others think of them. Sadly, with one particular group of people, stereotypes seem to be all there is- the used car salesman.

So we're shopping for a new car. Our Mazda is 11-years old, the air-conditioning doesn't work (this is fine 8 months of the year of course, but come July...), and the gear pops when we shift it into 5th (which is particularly precarious for Jude who commutes on the freeway for an hour three times a week to his internship). The thing is, as students, our budget immediately disqualifies us from getting cars we really really want, i.e. a Subaru Forrester, or a zippy Scion, better still the Toyota Hybrid- Prius (imagine the tax-cut! of course, it's like buying ourselves a conscience), even a simple second-hand Honda Civic is out of our reach. Oh woe is us... And it's not even a want, you *need* a car in this town. Only 3 months of a year do I feel that walking is the best way to get around Ann Arbor. Apart from that, NO. Unlike the bigger cities where public transport is utterly comprehensive and convinient, Ann Arbor's idea of public transportation is buses that come every half-hour, each bus-stop being served by one bus number, and routes only running from 6am to 10pm in many areas. We've been spoiled by what I now think as Singapore's rather inspired public transportation system.

Anyways, about these car-people. My question is, how can they ever talk to anyone honestly anymore? Is there like a knob that they switch off when they go home where they then become real, normal people who speak to their wives and children in neither hyperbole or conspiratorially like they're your new best friend? Where they don't say things like, "To tell you the truth, I don't make money. I just sell cars.", or "Honestly, I'm not here to earn your money, I want to earn a friend"? These guys would sell their mothers' soul to cut a deal. The ones we've encountered this past week have done nothing to redeem the abysmal reputation of used car salesmen- they have been every bit as sleazy, smarmy and shady as people make them out to be.

Which brings me back to the beginning- at what point does one give in to doubt and suspicion and say, "I can no longer give this dude the benefit of the doubt. I think he's trying to scam me."? You want to believe things that people tell you because like Anne Frank, you want to believe that at their core, people are actually good at heart. You want to go on thinking that deceit, avarice and self-servitude are things you only hear of or read about, and that the person standing in front of you is actually sincere, genuine and trustworthy. I don't want to lose that faith in people. It will be a sad, sad day.

If you can find an honest used car saleman, let us know. We need to buy a new car.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

PIctures perfect

Finally loaded all 100+ photos we took over 20 days. Towards the end of the trip, Jude got so snap-happy everywhere we went, people on the streets actually thought he was a tourist (few locals would take photos of sugar-cane juice stalls, or of their wives buying illegal DVDs...). So what you'll be seeing amongst the photos:
1) Our family including our niece's first birthday, my grandparents (I really wish I spent more time with my granny) and my sister's gleeful acquisition of a new pink ipod mini. I don't know how but in 3 days, she imported more songs than I have on my 20GB!!
2) My Karaoke expedition: you won't see pictures of me here. I was too busy snapping away at my friends laughing at me, each other and themselves. These photos do not do justice to the sheer hilarity which was that night.
3) Some sights of Singapore: These pictures actually turned out really well. Jude takes good photos. They look like they belong in Lonely Planet or something.
4) Our road-trip to Kulau Lumpur. We literally ate ourselves north-ward toward and through Malaysia's capital.
5) My uncle's seafood restaurant- Don't go here unless you're a) a real foodie (coz there're only photos of food, b) have the self-restraint and discipline to not bolt out the door to your nearest seafood place (which I guarantee will not even come close to how fresh and absolutely yummy his seafood is), or c) don't really like food in which case these photos will have no effect on your whatsoever... and what's wrong with you anyway??!!
6) Photos of our friends, many of whom met us with kid(s) in tow. This phenomenon is otherwise known as the Peer Pressure of Procreation.
7) Abundant pictures of our niece Amelia. The cutie loves anything electronic- imagine, she's happier with a cell-phone than a Winnie-the-Pooh doll.

Knock yourselves out!