Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq...

So yes, I was upset that Lost didn't get as many nominations as it did last year (or as many as I think it should...); I was also sorely disappointed at Megan Mullally's sleep-inducing thank-you speech. You would think that having played the self-absorbed, acerbic, totally un-P.C. and keel-over-laughing hilarious Karen Walker for 8 years, my favorite character on Will & Grace would have accepted her Emmy with a little more flair and punch. But no, she didn't, and I could have spent that 30-seconds watching my nails dry and it would have been more scintillating.

Still, I dutifully sat through bits of the Emmy's happy enough, especially watching Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart give out an award together and the former throwing an obnoxious hissing fit at the shame (and sham if you ask me) of losing to Barry Manilow :) But the most delightful moment of the night hands-down has to be in the middle of Hugh Laurie and Helen Mirren's presentation. He was at his annoying best, translating with an affected accent everything she was saying into French. Helen Mirren is of course not one to be outdone, and throws words like "winnowing" at him, daring him to find the right French word. And after she delivers the line, "[winnowing] literally hundreds of stunning performances into a meagre list of just five...", what is dear Mr. Laurie's French translation? "Poof! Cinq..."

Just exquisite! :)

1.2 million photos geo-tagged on Flickr in 24hrs!!!


According to the latest entry on Digg, 1,234,384 photos were geotagged in the first 24 hours after the launch of the new Geotagging feature on Flickr. The latest entry on the Flickr blog outlines what geotagging is and how you can go about using the new tool. Essentially, you can associate your photos to a location on a google-like map. We've geotagged some of the photos from our camping trip in the U.P.. You can find our geotagged photos at this link.

I have to say that Flickr has made taking photos and sharing them so much more fun. They really have improved the way I use the photos I've taken by enabling me to sort them in sets, categorizing them with tags, sharing them with friends/family and participating in like-minded groups. Now, with the geotagging feature I can show people exactly where the photos were taken and even find other photos (or individuals) that were taken in the area. I know I'm sounding like an acolyte at the altar of Flickr, but I give credit where credit is due. Flickr has definitely improved the my experience with photography and to a certain extent, is also dictating the way I take my photos nowadays. It's making me take photos with the knowledge that I'm going to share them with family and friends. So much so that I realize that I've been taking a lot of photos to show the context of a situation.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

[click for trailer and website]

I concede- Will Ferrell has finally made a movie I'm looking forward to watching.

Monday, August 28, 2006

10 things we learnt from camping in the U.P.


Miner's Castle, Pictured Rocks, MI.
Originally uploaded by jyew.
So we came home a day early- well, technically not a day since we left the campsite past 9pm last night and drove through the misty, foggy night to get home at 3am this morning. We didn't get to bed till 5am... The weather was just too dreary to stay an extra night- we would have been stuck in our tents while it poured outside and we didn't want to deal with the yuckiness of packing up in the rain. And with high humidity and no wind, we would have been bug fodder in no time...

Nonetheless, all in all, it was a good trip, shower or no shower. It was great just hanging out with Rick, Emilee & Kumo, and the U.P. was gorgeous! A kind of rugged, untouched beauty I had never associated with Michigan. A shout-out to Ms. Anderson! We thought of you Melanie, although we didn't get a chance to go as far north as Sault Ste. Marie :) The U.P. rocks!

Some lessons we learnt:
1) We are sorely under-prepared for camping. If we're going to do more of this camping thing, we're going to have to spend way more time at R.E.I. How are we supposed to know that a simple sports pocket bucket would make all the difference between cleaned dishes and clean dishes??
2) When you're obsessed enough, even a camping trip becomes one extended Lost moment...
3) Everything tastes better cooked over an open fire- pork chops, franks, hot dog buns, marshmallows, potatoes, etc. I swear, if we had boiled water over the campfire, that would have tasted better too...
4) I like S'mores (which I had never had before). Ummm... that ultra-sweet, ooey, toasty, chocolatey, crunchy yumminess...)
5) Pyromaniacs are born when their friends systematically teach them how to build good campfires and they then spend the rest of the night throwing every possible thing into the fire to "just see what happens..."
6) Thankfully, even in our thirties, there are still things in this world that can take our breath away. (See Pictured Rocks)
7) There's nothing like using water freshly pumped from a well to wash up early in the morning.
8) The U.P. is sorely under-rated as a travel destination. There's so much to see and appreciate, and I'm not just talking about Mackinac Island and the people who gather there every year for the annual Somewhere In Time conventions...
9) Give my husband a beer, a deck chair and a quiet beach, and he can sit there forever.
10) I can survive three days without a shower. But just barely.

For more about the trip and the U.P., here are the photos.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Big Knob

We're off to the UP (Upper Peninsula) tomorrow, the Big Knob to be specific. We're meeting Rick and Emilee to do some camping we've been putting off for too long. It's going to be a 5-hour drive up north and maybe some hiking before we get to the beach/ campsite. I'm kinda excited, but nervous at the same time. This is only the second time I've been camping (the first time was with Olivier and the Lazzaros to Kentucky to rock-climb) and the whole there-might-not-be-a-proper-bathroom thing still bothers me a little... Bugs I can deal with; walking along trails, no problem; beaches and forests, I love; and even eating camping food is fine with me; but no shower everyday- errrm, not so much... What I am looking forward to though is the scenery of Northern Michigan and Lake Michigan that so many people rave about. And to see a beach again- oh, you have no idea how happy I'm going to be! :)

As for camping food- I think we've packed more than enough. Jammed-packed in our cooler are bread, bananas, dried fruit, soup, instant cup noodles, instant coffee (this girl ain't going nowhere without caffeine...), Chinese pork floss (novel, I know but so inspired no?? It was Jude's idea...), peanut butter, granola bars, crackers, 5 gallons of water, aloe vera drink and a couple of cans of peanut dessert. And I haven't even told you what Rick and Emilee are bringing- so far they've mentioned steak, mac 'n cheese, bacon and eggs and maple/ walnut cereal. Man... talk about a classy camping trip!

We should be all set in terms of equipment- we've got our tent, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, lantern, bug spray, ground sheet in case it rains, head lamps, foldable chairs, Swiss Army knife, and something no camping trip can be without- loads of plastic and ziplog bags. I'm taking my husband's word for it- he's the one who survived a massive rainstorm during military training in Australia with all his clothes dry and intact while the rest of his platoon-mates found themselves with soggy socks and underwear. All because he packed everything in ziplog bags. I always knew I married a smart man :)

So till Sunday when we get back!

Singapore Dreaming

Just testing out an audio streaming application here. Please bear with the me. Also, if this experiment succeeds, please enjoy this track from the upcoming movie Singapore Dreaming. It's a little ditty produced in a very traditional Asian pop style. I can almost imagine this track being sung (albeit out of tune) in a thousand karaoke bars across Asia and Chinatowns. Somehow this is the kind of music that my parents must have danced to at their wedding.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another 5 things meme

We were tagged by Noor :

5 things in my our refrigerator
1. two bottles of beer left over from Jude's birthday TWO MONTHS ago...
2. maple jelly
3. half a block of Parmesan cheese
4. kim-chee from Il-Hwan
5. seedless grapes

5 things in my our closet
(erm, which one?)
1. winter coats
2. extra blankets for winter
3. various bags, backpacks and luggages
4. umbrellas
5. Manfrotto camera tripod

5 things in my our purse
(seeing how Jude does not carry a purse- one hopes he does not, this is a mix of what we both usually have in the backpacks we carry to school)
1. iPods
2. house keys
3. cell phones
4. sunglasses
5. gum

5 things in our car Ocha
1. maps of Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan
2. map of Chicago
3. iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod
4. two 15-lb dumbells we just got after trading in our 8-lb ones (see my previous post)
5. a small crate of car-cleaning supplies: polish, chamois, glass cleaner, etc.

5 people we're tagging:
1. Stan
2. Terri
3. Chrispy (he needs to update one of those three blogs...)
4. Allison
5. Zahra & Jennie

M. Ward - Chinese Translation



I just came across this sweet little video of M. Ward's Chinese Translation on wurh.com. It merges our love for animation with great songwriting. We haven't heard much of M. Ward's music before this but according to a Google search, his latest album is "the mother of all front porch records". I don't really know what that means but he does have a quiet and low-key style that we both really enjoy. All in all, we think that this is one humdinger of song and a great video to boot. BTW, the chinese translation to the lyrics are pretty accurate :)

Daddy's girl


My new toy
Originally uploaded by jyew.
What can I say, at the end of the day, as old as I will ever become and as independent as I think I'll ever be, at the end of the day, I still lean on my dad to save my day, or in this case, my bus-rides to school and self-flagellating gym sessions. My 20GB ipod moved on past the pearly gates of mp3-player heaven last month and I've been ipod-less ever since. No amount of updating, erasing, prodding, kicking, smashing, wailing (mostly on my part) could revive it...

Anyway, so I sheepishly (and shamelessly I might add) asked my dad for a be-earliered 30th birthday present and in his wonderful generousity, not only did he say yes, he didn't even ask which model I was getting or how much it was going to cost. *sigh*... In return, I felt it right that I shouldn't be too indulgent, so instead of a brand new 20GB, I chose a refurbished 4GB nano instead. The thing is sooo slim I can't believe it holds as many songs as the mini. It's so sleek and portable- I lurve it! The only thing is that I have way more songs in my iTunes than the nano can hold, so I figure it'll act as a rotating jukebox of sorts- I'll put in and take our different songs everytime I update it.

And in a spurt of excitement that almost rivaled mine, Jude sugested that I get the new Nike + iPod attachment for the nano. I haven't gotten round to figuring out exactly how it works, but in the words of Adrien, just looking at the ads makes me want to run out and jog for hours! Basically it acts like a pedometer and wirelessly sends information about your running pace from a transmitter you attach to your shoe to the nano. The nano not only records your speed, based on all that info, it will also then suggest appropriate songs from your playlist to match your running pace! And it gives you the number of calories burned too. It's all about motivation and psyching you up to the optimal level I suppose, which is great because trust me, I need all the psyching I can get when it comes to going to the gym...

Speaking of motivation and exercising, can I just say that free weights are the Devil's instruments of torture??!! I decided to move from the weight machines to free weights last week and I think my arms are still swearing at me from under their breaths... We have a couple of 8-pounders at home, but the gym only has 12.5s and up. So what choice did I have? Let's just say, until yesterday, my shoulders could not feel a thing...

Anyways, off to fiddle with the new toy now- thanks again Dad! :)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wall art


Wall of posters I
Originally uploaded by jyew.
We finally got round to putting up all the posters we've been accumulating over the past few years. For the last month or so, we've been tripping over frames and mounting boards sticking out from every corner of the living room and having our wall filled up in various degrees of completeness.

Jude and I are envisioning an organic process of just building on on what we have now, slowly adding more pieces as and when we buy a new one. The whole idea is to fill up the entire wall. As impoverished grad students, this is about the closest thing to collecting art I guess. :) We like how it looks now- gives the living area an eclectic feel of some sort. It's nice!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Watch Little Miss Sunshine because it is one of this year's best-written films; watch it because it will make you forgive the directors for ever having made Napoleon Dynamite. Watch the movie because it manages to capture the heart and hurt of an endearingly fractured family without overdoing the quirkiness or pummeling you with the cute factor.

Watch Little Miss Sunshine because with that opening shot, Abigail Breslin will just draw you right into her adorably artless aura with those over-sized glasses and pudgy hopefulness; watch it because Steve Carrell will be hard-pressed to top this performance of a lifetime.

Please watch Little Miss Sunshine because I can't remember the last time an audience erupted into spontaneous unanimous applause when a movie ended, and watch it because everyone has to be reminded that we all have the right to love ice-cream.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Of brown polka dots and red shoes

Despite the very consistent and disciplined posting of this past month (which could be easily misconstrued as us having much free time and little else to do), Jude & I have actually been crazy insanely busy this summer. He's been taking stats classes (don't ask. Just. Don't.), and I've been over my head churning out papers as part of my internship for Columbia (which I'm not complaining about because it is going to pay for our trip home over Christmas). Blogging has been a relief from the mentally claustrophobic drone of academic writing and so, in my latest attempt to take a break from work, I have a flaky, ditzy question, people...

What shoes does one wear with a polka-dotted silk brown dress?

Ok, before you think Serene Koh has clearly lost it and gone off the deep-end with that random question, I have to say this: my dear best friend is getting married in December and she has wonderfully asked that I be her bridesmaid (ok, I KNOW, it's matron-of-honor since I'm married, but I turn thirty in 70 days- and yes, I'm counting-, let me hold on some semblance of my youth please...). Since I am clearly not the center of focus of the day and she has graciously let me choose my own dress, I thought I'd get something versatile that I can wear both at her wedding and whenever else as well. So this is what I picked from JCrew:


I love the sweet polka dots (I think there're polka dots somewhere in the wedding theme), it's a warm and lovely chocolate brown, light and flirty enough for the crazy humid Singapore weather, and more importantly, it can take me from chapel to cocktail party ( I hope). Now my headache, what the heck do you wear with a brown dress? Black shoes? Beige? Or god forbid, white? My style gurus Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear always say, when you can't figure out what color shoe to wear, go one extreme and make it a statement. They once paired a turquoise dress with a pair of red shoes and it was stunning. So people, red shoes with a brown dress? A bit much? At a wedding?...

I have a pair of scarlet red satin red heels I wore for our wedding reception that look almost identical to this, except they have ankle straps instead of slingbacks, complete with the teeny diamante buckle.No one's going to be looking at my feet right? (Heck, no one's going to be looking at me for that matter...) So what do you think? What would Stacy and Clinton think? Or maybe I should just go buy a pair of strappy champagne sandals (which will undoubtedly flatter my flat feet, making them look like a cross between an overstuffed dumpling and a strung up beef roulade...)

Oh, as an aside, after telling me that the dress is lovely and for me to go get it, this is what else my best friends has to say about it:
Just to test your movie-buff credentials, which blockbuster 1990 hit starring major characters from Seinfeld and Chicago Hope featured "this dress" in a polo match?!"

Answer

See why she's my best friend? We speak movies... :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We aim to please

So, in light of my husband's personal and professional axiom, we've once again improved the usability of the blog. In an initial attempt to provide categories to our entries (as per Noor's suggestion), what resulted was an unwieldy long list of entries for each category (and only a few categories at that...). So, until Jude materializes his grand plan for a home server system so we can host MovableType on our own, we have to rely on del.icio.us for the time-being to make categories.

I created an account just for the blog and tagged every single blog-post into categories (we have 330 posts in case anyone's wondering; 331, if you count this). This might actually be better than the categorizing system in Wordpress or MovableType coz you can tag each post with more than one tag. So if you look at the sidebar now, we have a section for Categories, and each tag will take you to the respective del.icio.us page. Jude should be proud- the tags represent the aggregated information disseminated by this blog, a representation of collective group knowledge formation, and the outward manifestation of both our inner cognitive processes- guess who's been proof-reading all her husband's academic papers?... :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Are we the Internet?

I feel that the issue of net neutrality and its political, social and cultural implications have not been taken too seriously by the general public here in the US. What started out as a Government funded project to ensure that communications lines stay open in the event of an emergency, has now been handed over to service providers with the intentions that the free market would do a better job at allocating this resource which was developed with public money. While I understand the logic and wisdom of doing that. What I don't understand is how we got to a stage where service providers, who claim operating losses, want to distinguish web content and develop a two tiered system where those who pay more get to sue the higher bandwidth. I know that the issue is a little more complex than that, and below I attach an essay that I wrote for a class as an initial foray into the issue. In addition, there is a group called "We Are the Web"who have just released the following video in support of net neutrality. Somehow, I am not sure how Robin Hood, BAAAAAD dancing, Tron guy and Leslie Hall are going to help the cause... Maybe the point is to frighten, annoy and repulse the powers that be into submission. You've got to watch the video to know what I mean...



Essay on net neutrality:
Net neutrality, or the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated the same regardless of the recipient, sender or the type of information, has been the subject of much recent controversy. Telecommunications company, Verizon, has recently called for tariffs to be imposed on Internet firms like Google and Yahoo. [1] Their argument is that Internet content providers have been “freeloading” on the expensive infrastructure developed by telecommunication firms. Ostensibly the tariffs charged would aid in recouping the costs incurred for infrastructural development. This argument seems to be based on the notion the telephone companies, who own the lines through which all Internet traffic is routed, can and should discriminate the bandwidth they provide for financial gain. However, I believe that Verizon’s arguments for “increasing excludability” to its infrastructure is not justified. [2] This is because Verizon is discriminating the usage of its bandwidth because it can and not because it is experiencing extra costs because of the large amount of traffic attributed to popular websites. Using this example as a starting point, this paper will further elaborate on the issues raised by the net neutrality debate and attempt to present a scenario when it be would be justified to allow the usage of the Internet to take place freely.

A frequently cited argument for net neutrality has been that the free access of all users to online content and services is the reason for much of the innovation on the Internet. This notion rests on the assumption that the Internet is a public good that should remain neutral to the type of information that is transmitted. This argument has some economic merit because, like most information goods, the costs incurred in maintaining the network is independent of the level of usage. The bulk of the cost comes from investments made to infrastructure development and the cost of sending an additional packet of information on the Internet is essentially zero. [3] What this highlights telephone companies can and should charge users and content providers a fixed connection charge for providing access to their network. This will help recoup a portion of their costs in developing the network. However, the notion of the Internet as a public is dependant on the fact that there is sufficient bandwidth for everyone and little congestion on the network.

Another argument for why traffic over a company’s infrastructure should remain free is that the bandwidth of the Internet’s backbone is inherently a shared resource. This is mainly due to the end-to-end or “connectionless design of the Internet. [3] Utilizing the TCP/IP protocol and packet routing technology for transporting information across the Internet. The design of this technology is reliant on interconnectivity between the various networks as information packets are routed across the most efficient networks regardless of their ownership. [4] Thus if a telecommunications company resorts to discriminating against traffic from certain websites by charging tariffs, what results is the breakdown of cooperation between the networks to carrying information across their lines regardless of origin and purpose.

However, one problem with treating the Internet like a public good is that it may be subject to the “tragedy of the commons”. This describes the phenomenon where unrestricted use of common pool resources, like bandwidth, would ultimately result in the “overgrazing” of these resources. The problem with free access to the Internet by the end users, such free usage of bandwidth may cause network congestion and a social cost being imposed on the users by way of degraded service, delays and dropped packets. [3] Thus some mechanism for congestion control of the network bandwidth is needed. A highly persuasive way to do this is through the use of pricing. The rationale here is that pricing allows for the efficient allocation of bandwidth as it makes users decide for themselves whether their packers are more or less valuable than the cost of the service. [3] Additionally, pricing avoids the problem of having the provider decide whose and what information should be charged for using the network. Instead, pricing allows the “invisible hand” of market mechanisms make socially optimal decisions of whose information deserves priority in times of traffic congestion on the Internet.

This paper thus outlines an approach to regulating the use of network infrastructure that views net neutrality as a design problem. [5] Using economic principles and mechanism design approaches allows future policy makers to regard bandwidth on the Internet as a scarce resource that must be regulated through pricing mechanisms.

References:
[1] Mohammad, A. Verizon Executive Calls for End to Google's 'Free Lunch', The Washington Post, Tuesday, February 7, 2006; Retrieved on April 16th, 2006, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/02/06/AR2006020601624.html

[2] DeLong, J. B. and Froomkin, A. M. (1999). Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow's Economy. First Monday 5(2), 2004, p1-29. Retrieved on April 16h, 2006 from http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue5_2/delong/

[3] MacKie-Mason, J. K. and Varian, H. R. (1995). Pricing the Internet. In Public Access to the Internet. Edited by B. Kahin and J. Keller. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press: 269-314.

[4] Tanenbaum, A. S. (1996), Computer Networks, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall. Chapter 1. (p1-76).

[5] Roth, A.E. (2002)'The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design" Fisher-Schultz Lecture - Econometrica, 2002. http://www.ww.uni-magdeburg.de/vwl2/teaching/DownloadablePapers%5Croth_2001.pdf

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Egg tarts


Piping hot egg tarts
Originally uploaded by jyew.
A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do- if you miss egg tarts and no where in Ann Arbor sells a good one, you try to recreate it at home. Admittedly it doesn't look as authentic as the ones you'll find at tim-sum restaurants- and no where near as pretty- but the taste comes close enough. I was too lazy to make the crust myself so I just bought ready-made pie-crust. And instead of a tart molds, I used a muffin tray, which is why my tarts are a little deeper than the regular ones. They look almost like Portuguese-style egg tarts.

But the texture was good- all soft and wobbly. The custard isn't as sweet as I had expected which was good and the egginess isn't too overwhelming in case anyone's worried...

I'll probably have to tweak the recipe a little to get it closer to how I remember my favorite egg tart in Singapore tastes like, so my overall verdict: it isn't perfect, but for now, it'll do, and I'm happy :)

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts
Ingredients:
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 9 eggs, beaten
* 1 dash vanilla extract
* 1 cup canned evaporated milk
* a box of Pillsbury ready-made pie crust

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil.

2) Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

3) Use a muffin paper cup to trace and cut out pieces of pie-crust to line the muffin trays. You should get about 5-6 tart shells from each sheet of crust.

4) Strain the eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla.

4) Strain the filling through a sieve again, and fill the tart shells. (Both straining processes are important coz you want a really smooth custard.)

5) Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Girl(s) from Katong

It has finally happened! Someone has seen the light and decided to write a song about my sisters and I! The Girl from Katong is OUR song- we grew up in Marine Parade, lived in the East all our lives, all went to school in the Katong area, and have always fervently believed that all things East Coast are the best (prawn noodles, kaya, laksa, Parkway Parade, the beach, the highway...).

And all thanks to local band, Serenaide. Think Pulp meets R.E.M- breezy guitar indie pop. And my dear husband for sending this my way :) I can't believe the day has come when "Marine Parade" and "Katong" are actually in the same song together (and not for NDP no less!)

Yes, all is finally right with the world... :)
She was the girl from Katong
Magical Marine Parade
I want to sing you this song
Disappearing in a fade

She caught me looking at her
From the corner of her eye

Over me, over you
She said run over you over me..

And in a blinding flash
We ended in a crash
I got her to her feet and then she smiled at me...

She was the girl from Katong
Magical Marine Parade
I want to sing you this song
Disappearing in a fade

- The Girl from Katong, Serenaide

Great, now all I can think of is a bowl of Katong laksa...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You think you know serendipity?

Say "hi" to my brand new olive green/ocean blue Puma Lab II sneakers. Without going into too much detail, suffice to say that I got them at the deliriously ridiculous price of a Mocha Freeze (a small one at that...). Don't worry, no one's gut was slit, no horse heads severed (we watched The Godfather I and II back-to-back last night...)- everything was legal, all parties were happy, and my feet are especially grateful for the divine comfort of my new shoes.

So does this mean I now have official membership to the geek-chic/ Urban Outfitters-shopping/ indie chick sorority? Man... I'm so cool right now I can hardly breathe ;)

Monday, August 07, 2006

A cultural experience


Jude with Josh and Christine
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Bridal showers really are a curious phenomenon- they're not conventional in Singapore and nobody I know at home had one. So I went to my first shower yesterday for Christine hosted by her mum & sis, and Josh's mum. It was fun, but I was a little nervous during the days leading up to the party- how does the whole gift registry thing work? Do I get it delivered or do I bring it with me? If I give them a present at the shower, do we still get them another for the wedding? What's the appropriate greeting on a bridal shower card? "Happy Shower!", "Congratulations!", "Good Luck!", "Now You're Clean!"??...

In the end, I got something from their registry delievered to her place- it's a Chrysanthemum Bundt Cake Pan (because everyone who knows Christine knows she is THE domestic baking goddess...) and wrote a message on the card that didn't involve having to decide what the greeting should be. The shower was both really enjoyable, and a rather enlightening cultural experience. I discovered that 1) it's traditional to record down the present that each person has gifted (I think this will be thought of as a little too forward at home- you usually don't want to make these things too obvious); 2) you pass the presents around so everyone can ooh and ahh over how soft a set of towels are, how sparking the new punch bowl is, and marvel at the technical design of that electric fondue set; 3) the bride-to-be isn't supposed to break any of the bows on her gifts. She has to bundle them all together and that's what she'll hold as her bouquet at the wedding rehearsal. If she breaks any bows, that's the number of kids the couple will have. Christine broke two :)

Oh, and we played a game where we all had to guess the answers to a bunch of trivia questions about Josh and Christine, like who had a higher undergrad GPA (Christine), what their Chinese zodiac signs are (Josh- Rabbit; Christine- Horse), and where exactly they first met (Rm 411, School of Information, University of Michigan). Guess who won??? Heehee... Yup, I was rather pleased with myself :) My prize was a jar of jelly beans, which Jude & I have been happily munching on all since yesterday. The dark green ones are gooood...

So all in all, I had fun, and gained new insight into another facet of American culture. More importantly though, it was wonderful to see how blissfully happy Josh and Christine are. We're definitely looking forward to the wedding in October!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Oh please...

I can't believe this- someone has actually gone and remade Infernal Affairs. I knew it was bound to happen... Does Hollywood's lack of originality know no limits? Is nothing sacred anymore?

Admitedlly, The Departed is pedigree stuff- Martin Scorsese at the helm, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg. But c'mon, you take one of Hong Kong's best movies in recent years and repackage it into another glossy, slick flick passing off as a psychological thriller, which then means it can no longer be a thriller since so many people have watched the original that nothing about the narrative is going to be surprising anymore.

I feel sick...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Guilty pleasure

[** Spoiler warning: Ok, I've just been duly chastised by my best friend for irreparably spoiling her Project Runway-watching experience. She is no longer willing to be my emotional crutch or name one of children after me. Apparently, Season 2 isn't over in Singapore and by clicking on the show's link, she was disillusioned to not only find out that the episodes showing in Singapore now are not "live", but also too much information about things she didn't want to know. So, warning to those of you at home: don't read on or foray into the unknown if you want to watch the rest of Season 2 and Season 3 in ignorant bliss!...]


I love Project Runway.

It's my one reality TV indulgence. Ever since religiously following the really early seasons of Amazing Race, I've categorically avoided all reality TV programs- I think they're exploitative, self-aggrandizing, and full of talentless wannabes in search of their 7 seconds of fame, only to be relegated to Battle of the Network Reality TV Stars once they're no longer the flavor of the moment. Who cares if you can perfectly parallel-park a 16-wheeler? Or that you've invented an all-in-one sash-dress-underwear held together by velcro? And honestly, just because your voice can quiver at a pitch higher than Mariah Carey's does not automatically mean you can sing.

Now Project Runway on the other hand, I like (I even got Jude addicted too!). I mean, these people have real skill, and they're actually making something of their own creation. Honestly, once you get pass the whole hand-fluttering "omigod-i-luuuuuurve-this-faaabulous-fabric" poseur fashionista routine, it really is great TV- drama, humor, backstabbing, and a whole ton of nail-biting tension thrown in for good measure (even though I didn't think last night's controversy was as big a deal as if they had revealed that one of the contestants slept with Heidi Klum... like say... Kayne! She turned him straight! *gasp*...)

My money's on Uli to win- her designs are beautiful, but still wearable and she's got such a down-to-earth feel to her. The best thing is, she stays above the bitchiness that some of the contestants alwways descend into... I just hope they don't get rid of her just coz she may not be as interesting (see Katherine and Bonnie). And who else was sad to see Malan go?? At first, I thought he was kind of arrogant and pompous (what's with that silly accent??); but when he took full responsibility for that tree trunk of a dress and how upset he was that he had to leave, I felt so bad for him...

My other favorite is Bradley- dear endearingly wacky Bradley. I'm not sure how far he'll get, but please just keep him on coz he's so scruffy and sweet! And c'mon, didn't you just love his whole "I think she doesn't like my beard" thing last night? I was so happy he didn't have to leave on his birthday last week, and that the judges loved his panic-induced outfit! :) Besides, I think he might also be the only guy among them who's not gay (well, and maybe Michael), but Jude thinks these days, you never know...

Our friends are already planning for a Project Runway finale party (we had a low-key one for Season 2). This time, everyone has to turn up to the party wearing their favorite outfit from the season- I don't care if I have to tape, staple or glue the darn thing together, I'm there already!

Carry on!
I'm a fish out of water. I'm a squid with no ocean.
-Bradley, Project Runway

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pitchfork (Part II)

For part duex of the pitchfork music festival report, here's a couple of grainy and amatuerish video clips of Jens Lekman playing at the festival: