Thursday, September 29, 2005

New addition to sidebar

So Jude & I have decided to dedicate a section of our blog to the friends and family who mean so very much to us. These are either blogs or Flickr sites of the people without whom our time in Ann Arbor would have been totally insufferable, and also those because of whom we always think of home in Singapore. With regards to the latter, there's only my cousin, Terri's blog so far (which btw is awesome because she's smart & funny, and because she speaks and sometimes blogs in French so as far as I'm concerned, it's a cultural experience too) primarily because although both my sisters have blogs, one hasn't updated it in almost a year because the government's working her to the bone churning report after report on the status of our country's labor force, and the other has resolutely refused to let me share her pre-pubescent angst with the rest of world. She loves Billy Martin, that's all you need to know.

We figured it's a good way for those of you who read our blog to 1) also read the blogs of friends you were on the verge of losing contact with and can now revive links, and 2) visit the sites of people you may not know, and in the process, make new contacts. Either way, it's a win-win situation- everyone will love everyone else, the world will be a happier place, global warming will be averted, and the dolphins will be saved. There you go- Q.E.D.

*[Hmm... so someone just informed us that those of you using Internet Explorer actually see the entire sidebar at the bottom of the page instead of next to the posts. I'm not sure how to fix that except suggest that you use Netscape, Firefox or Safari instead. It works fine with those browsers and they're more user-friendly to begin with anyway.]

Dancing around the world


This video is hilarious. Via JeffTang :) Someday I hope that we can do this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

G' day mate!



[With edited sound links]

Architecture in Helsinki- one of the best things to come out of Australia since Naomi Watts, Mambo, and kangaroos (ok, maybe koalas too). An 8-member band based out of Melbourne, these guys are part Polyphonic Spree, part Arcade Fire, plus '80s electronic pop meets Of Montreal- kitchen-sink pop, if you will. And that's the best thing about them- you can't pigeon-hole them. They don't have a sound. With eight people armed with a huge variety of instruments (I think they might be a sitar thrown in somewhere) and all contributing their vocals in one way or another, each track in the album is a surprise- from random off-key yelling to military chants to balladic crooning (sometimes all in one track- see In Case We Die, Parts 1-4). And the best thing is, it all works brilliantly! AIH is rambunctious, delirious and frenetic, as if someone (or all of them) have had one too many triple expressos.

Check out in particular Wishbone, Maybe You Can Owe Me and The Cemetary. Like Alice, you'll find yourself falling down into Wonderland where strange colors (yes, you will hear colors), sounds and sights thrash and swirl into psychedelic euphoria.

Do The Whirlwind
She said you'd given up,
Your folks told me you should be left alone,
On a mountain top knocking the aeroplanes down with stones.

Do the whirlwind and carry the hope that stings all night long,
Don't abandom him 'cause he quivers when he hears your song,
Believe me, it's safe to see.

At least be confused about right and wrong,
Plan to settle down,
Over the moon under the sun.

Do the whirlwind and shotgun the seat that beats
Hanging on to the one you love
To keep keepin', sleepin', dreamin' on.

Folks given up under the quivers and lines,
You do the whirlwind,
Don't abandon,
Get a handle of yourself, son.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

New love


So- my latest breakfast crush- Yogurt Burst Cheerios! I've been completely infatuated with Honey Nut Cheerios for the longest time, but alas, at $4.89 for a small box, it was mostly an unrequited adoration from afar... Yogurt Burst on the other hand- so thoughtfully at a promotional price of $2.50- set my heart aflutter with desire. It had me at "on sale"... With less sugar (and made of wholesome wheat as every member of the Cheerios clan is), it's also literally better for your health, or so it amorously declares.

I think my early morning gastronomic hearstrings are being slowly wooed over by the more subtle allure of this new love...

*Crunch crunch*

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ha!

Woo-hoo! I get to keep this template! Everybody knew I was so rooting for the new one anyway- the poll was just my diabolical attempt to publicly legitimize my personal agenda... Anyways, on last count, we have twelve "aye"s and only two semi-"nay"s (my dad who says it's a little TOO clean, but still likes it anyway; and our guitar-and-theremin-making friend who thinks the background should be a color other than white- I tried, it doesn't work...)

So it'll be this floral motif for a while, at least until September 13 2006. In case people are wondering where I got the template, I've credited the designer in the sidebar. It's from francey.org, where I also got the Arcade Fire one. She has some really awesome stuff- there's a Royal Tennebaums template that I was very tempted to try out, and also one inspired by Of Montreal. And of course I still love the moths and train of the Arcade Fire design...

And just a coming attractions shout-out, look out for Jude's post tomorrow on the Sigur Ros concert he's at right now (pronounced Si-ur Rose- the "i" is like the "i" in "hit", silent "g" and "rose" is said very quickly- I got this from their website). The whole town is buzzing and there're kids sulking forlornly outside the theatre because it's sold out (they were sold out a couple of days after the tickets went on sale. We got them the day of man...) I was supposed to go, but am still stuck in the computer lab churning out a paper due at 10 in the morning.

Thank god for Chris.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

It's all Jen's fault...

Great, just what we need right now- something else to distract us from work. It's not enough that we Flickr-surf, Jen just introduced us to YouTube, a Flickr-like website, but for videos. You have NO idea how funny it is, and what a complete and utter time-suck! We're hooked.

Look out in particular for two Chinese dudes who lip-sync to pop music in their dorm rooms (their video on the Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way" is stratospheric...), and John Cleese's eulogy for Graham Chapman (complete with the cast of Monty Python singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Death" at the end) is poignantly hilarious, if there's ever such a thing.

Bring out the popcorn and soda! but don't say we didn't warn you...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What does it mean to be Singaporean?

In a bid to extend the theme of national pride and identity today...

Stir-fried kangkong with dried shrimp, garlic, chilli padi and... ma po tofu sauce. We had no sambal belacan...


Indian fish curry. Again, a substitution was in order- no fish head, so we used a salmon fillet. Muthu would be outraged...

Singapore & Katrina

I suppose this is an intriguing take on our country. It's always a little strange to read about how others think of you...

Singapore and Katrina- New York Times (14 Sep 2005)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Anniversary Poll

So... ghetto of our mind is officially a year old today! And I thought to commemorate the event by uploading a new template. Hopefully this one will not be as short-lived as the Arcade Fire one. I've tried to make sure that the images are securely hosted so nothing disappears like the last time. Cross your fingers... This template's way more feminine than the polka dots of the old, but I think also alot cleaner so to speak- clearer, less things going on. Scroll all the way down to the end; there's a pretty design at the bottom that few templates have.

Anyways, maintaining this blog has been a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family, and also to share with you our thoughts and experiences (often mundane and inconsequential we apologize, although we do have our days, like yesterday...). We really appreciate the comments and messages you leave, and they never fail to remind us of how much we're loved and how often we're thought of. Thanks guys!

Also, just to add some fun to the festivities (yes, yes, Jude & I are of course throwing a birthday party for the blog- balloons, party hats and cake, plus a pinata thrown in just in case people didn't know it was a birthday party...), I thought to take a poll on the new template. I'll leave it on for a week or so and then depending on whether people think this looks good or if they'd rather the old one back, I'll fix it next week. Do leave a comment or a message on the tag-board and we'll find out next Tuesday if this stays or not.

This should be fun!

Salman Rushdie

This was probably the most surreal experience I've had in a while. I thought meeting Nick Hornby was awesome enough, but no, clearly the Fates had more in store for my beating literary heart. I got to meet Salman Rushdie. No, let me clarify that, I got to speak to Salman Rushdie, and better still, he spoke back.

He was doing a reading at Borders today and both Jude & I had been looking forward to it for a while. He's smaller than I'd expected- I'd always imagined him to be an imposing figure for some reason. But how wonderful it is to realize that someone you've admired for a large part of your adult life is at the end of the day just human like you- literary legend or not. He was wonderfully affable, funny, and in the spirit of proper Englishness, incredibly eloquent. He read from his new book Shalimar the Clown which sounds pretty good judging from what must be the choice bits he picked to read.

So anyway, here I was sitting practically at the man's feet (yes, people worship rock stars, I stalk writers...) but totally out of his line of vision, but I hazarded to raise my hand during the Q & A anyway, and voila! he says, "Yes, the lady in the corner?" I was so flabbergasted I almost forgot my question! But promptly regained my composure and asked about which of his books was a favorite to write. If I had more of my wits about me, I'm sure I could have formulated something more eloquent like how everyone almost always touts "Midnight's Children" as his best work, or "The Satanic Verses" which gained him the greatest fame (or notoriety depending on how you look at it); and about how I disagree because I personally adore Shame. So I wanted to know if he agreed with the conventional assessment, or if he had his own personal favorite. Clearly, I didn't have all my wits about me, and was gushing like a schoolgirl (ok, not gushing, but really, the question sounded infinitely more sophisticated and intelligent in my head...) so it kind of came out rather prosaic, but I think I got my point across.

He said that one always feels closest to the most recent work because it's most intimately related to the psyche you're inhabiting at the moment. The Salman Rushdie who wrote "Midnight's Children" is considerably younger than the Salman Rushdie today and for that reason, the novel is a little harder for him to identify with now. But if he had to choose one of his books, it would be Haroun the Sea of Stories, a children' book he wrote for his son. His response also involved an encounter with a Jewish German children's publisher which he recounted in a hilarious accent that was terrific! And all that time he was responding to ME! Imagine that! I thought my heart would just stop beating...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Eastern Market

So we finally made it to Eastern Market today. We've been trying to make a trip there all summer but something always got in our way, one of which was a burning car on I-96 which distracted us and made us miss our exit... Anyways, it was a great expedition today- I love markets of all sorts- wet, dry, super, flea... The colors, the sounds, the smells (that of live poultry nonwithstanding...)- it was an absolute blast! And the bargains! Our treasures today:
1) A pound of portabello mushrooms: $3
2) A bunch of fresh basil: $1
3) A pound of red baby potatoes: $1
4) A generous piece of young ginger: 90 cents
5) 2 pounds of Concord grapes that Jude's been lusting over since we saw them at Whole Foods (where they were going for $6.99/lb!): $2(!!!!) These grapes are in a league of their own I tell you. They're perfectly round, a deep purple- almost black, bursting with sweet nectar, and have the most amazing texture, like a cross between a mangosteen and regular grapes. I'm not sure if you can find them easily at regular stores because they're meant more for jellies, juices and wines rather than table consumption. But if you can, trust me... it's sheer ambrosia.
6) A big bunch of kangkong: $1. They call it water convolvulus here, or water spinach. Jude & I love this! Fried with dried shrimp and sambal- oooh....
7) A bouquet of riotous mixed blooms: $4
8) Half a pound of scotch bonnet peppers: $1 (they're supposed to be the hottest peppers around. I'm going to make beef stew with them tomorrow. We'll see...)
9) 4 pieces of fried chicken that we brought home for dinner: $2.10 (plus tax). Can you beat that? We made a quick salad and opened a can of soup- which I think cost more than the four pieces of chicken- and that filled us up just nice. It takes the cake as the single most value-for-money meal we've had since we stepped foot in this country.
10) A small cannoli and a hunk of a slice of German chocolate cake: $1.59! (I rest my case...)
11) An awesome time with the Cooks and Cooneys: priceless...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Who says good comedy is dead?

Once again, there is hope for intelligent, incisive and empathetic humor.

[Click picture for video: "Meet the F**kers: A New Breed of Public Servants"- this takes a while...]


[Click picture for link. "Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky"]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Full of Grace

More than enough has been said about how the response to Hurricane Katrina exposes the blistering sclerosis that has infected the American fabric of life- the race issue, class tensions, the irony and shame that a first-world country falters in the face of diasaster other dispossessed nations confront on a daily basis. But hopefully the time for healing is upon us as the water recedes and people are moved to safer, drier ground.

Michigan is not only one of the states to which refugees from the Gulf Coast have been transported, the Graduate School here at U of M is also one of the universities accepting students displaced from their own who are now eager to restart their graduate studies. I guess it's gestures like these- mandated or otherwise- that remind us that while catastrophes are ripe circumstances for transgression, they also provide opportunities for revelations of grace.

Speaking of displacement and education, here's an article from today's New York Times which quotes my advisor, Prof. Jeffrey Mirel, on the resettling of children in other school districts for the new term.

If you want to send care packages to the people in the Astrodome, they now have their own address:
"Donated Goods"
Astrodome
Houston TX 77230

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Every woman should have ...

1) one old love she can imagine going back to...
2) and one who reminds her how far she has come;
3) enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to;
4) something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour;
5) a youth she's content to leave behind...
6) a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age;
7) a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra;
8) one friend who always makes her laugh...
9) and one who lets her cry;
10) a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family;
11) eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored;
12) a feeling of control over her destiny.

Every woman should know...
1) how to fall in love without losing herself;
2) how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship;
3) when to try harder...
4) and when to walk away;
5) that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents;
6) that her childhood may not have been perfect... but its over;
7) what she would and wouldn't do for love or more;
8) how to live alone, even if she doesn't like it;
9) whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally;
10) where to go- be it to her best friend's kitchen table, or a charming inn in the woods when her soul needs soothing;
11) what she can and can't accomplish in a day... a month...and a year.

Stumbled upon this list my best friend sent me years ago. Maybe it's age, or perhaps it's the coming of Fall (or the fact that it's 1.30 in the morning, Jude's asleep, there's nothing good on TV, and I'm too tired to read but too awake to sleep) which nudges one towards a quiet brand of pensiveness. Taking stock of the twentysomething years of my conscious life (I doubt I should be held accountable for the early years of my existence where even basic ingestion was beyond my own free will), of the twenty-five things, I'm blessed (or so I hope) to admit to fifteen of them. That's not a bad record I suppose- good to know the first twenty-nine years of my life have been rich in its own ways, and even better to know that there's yet more in my life to learn and live.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Our new Death Cab for Cutie poster


The new album isn't as great as their previous efforts, but there are gems:

I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the No's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles brusied by a lady in black
And I held my toungue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the No's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes
Are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the No's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark

Thursday, September 01, 2005

High & Dry

We visited...
1) the south of Florida where hardly anyone spoke English ("Hablar Español?")
2) the north of Florida where hardly anyone spoke English ("Ken aye 'git y'all folks any-thang tuh-daay?")
3) the oldest city in America, St. Augustine. Yes, despite popular belief, the nation's oldest city is not Plymouth Rock or Jamestown, but down South in Florida, established as a Spanish settlement in 1565.

We ate...
1) more shrimp than I dare to admit. There had better not be some health advisory warning about the amount of shrimp intake a day...
2) amazing Cuban food at Puerto Sagua in Miami. I had NO idea pork could taste so good. And the coffee, oh the coffee...

We got...
1) more swimming in a week than we ever had. Between the beaches we visited and the pool on the farm- we were water babies like never before. Which leads me to...
2) more tan than I think my body needs. The last time I got a tan this bad, it was February 2003. I had to hide the tan lines at our wedding in June. That's how bad I tan. I'm now a strange hue between toast and roast, and I swear it's going to stay till Christmas...

We bought...
...surprisingly little for a week-long trip.
1) A T-shirt for Jude from a record store in Miami;
2) An angora hat from the Orlando airport (duly christened my "Dorothy Parker hat");
3) A tiny young lime tree for our neighbor who helped us plant-sit while we were gone. They look better now than they ever did with me. *Darn*
4) Alot of gas, and at an average of $2.69/ gallon, that's not funny. I'm just glad we're not there this week.

We decided...
1) after graduation, we should just move to St. Augustine and teach at one of the most beautiful colleges in the country, Flagler College. Imagine a college which has a building that was once one of the oldest hotels in the country, whose cafeteria is surrounded by priceless Tiffany windows worth millions of dollars, and a location by the river as if you were living in Monaco.
2) we never want to retire in Ocala. Bleed us dry first...

We took...
... too many photos to fit in Flickr. So here are just some.