Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Halloween birthday


Thanks so much for those of you who braved the unseasonably cold weather to come out for drinks tonight! Yes, there were those strange moments at Bab's where the guy in the Richard Simmonesque spandex costume got a little too close for comfort, or when the troupe of Wonderwomen looked more like a female wrestling team than superheroes. And who can forget the human gum-ball machine whose costume no one could quite figure out till Anna took it upon herself to ask the poor girl... Yup, the perils of celebrating your birthday on the same weekend as when the rest of a college town celebrates Halloween.

Whatever the case may be, insanely cold weather and weird Halloween characters aside, turning 30 has been a blast, and that our friends were around to celebrate it with me made it all the more special. Thanks a ton guys!!

[Birthday photos here.]

Friday, October 27, 2006

30

No, I'm not going to wax all philosophical about what it means to turn 30 today, or dispense pearls of wisdom as if I've gained this new insight into the metaphysics of existence. Honestly, I don't feel any different today than I did yesterday (except maybe 3lbs heavier considering the indulgent birthday breakfast I got free from Angelo's this morning- corned beef hash with raisin toast and a side of bacon. What a way to embrace your age, with a one-way ticket straight to cardiac-arrest central...)

But, if there is one sentiment to be shared on this momentous occasion though, I guess it would have to be gratitude. Gratitude for being able to do something I love and enjoy everyday, and that even though I might not be making as much money as people much younger than I am, I have the privilege of being constantly challenged, humbled, but also strengthened, that I may do something good for others in the future; gratitude for the people who love me- my parents and sisters who are never far from my mind even if they are far away geographically; and my friends (both near and far) who love me for simply who I am and ask for nothing more.

And most importantly, I am thankful for the blessing of waking up every morning next to a good, kind man who makes me laugh everyday, and with whom I can't wait to spend the next 30 years of my life (and the next 30 after that too...)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wedding reunion

It's been more than two months since Christine's cultural experience of a bridal shower, and our first full-fledged American wedding was wonderful to say the least. It was a really sweet ceremony- Christine almost had to choke back her tears when saying her vows, and the reception was a complete and utter blast too. It was obvious to everyone there that the two of them could not be more in love if they tried- Christine, the epitome of the blushing bride, and Josh, the adoring groom. They're just so perfectly cute together!!... Congrats again the two of you!

The wedding was also a reunion of sorts for us as all the SI people descended upon Michigan from wherever they've been since graduation. Most travelled in from the west coast and immediately thanked their good minds for having moved there in the first place when Michigan welcomed them with nothing but its beguiling dreary skies, fortifying chill and the refreshing dampening of rain. How nice. Ann Arbor just hasn't been the same without them and it was so heartwarming to catch up with everyone and hang out just like old times (except that now, everyone actually has a real income- well, except Kathy who's just that bit sado-masochistic like us- while we're still stuck under the poverty line...)

Anyways, highlights of the evening:
1) Sweet Adrien telling me that he had actually drafted a detailed email to me about how to solve my webpage's IE problem. I fixed it before he could send that mail but I was still touched and told him to send it anyway.
2) Allison's date, Rory, connecting with Jude on The Big Lebowski level, which made me realize that there will always be a part of men I will never understand.
3) Everyone hanging our at Forte in Birmingham after the ceremony over drinks, coffee and inordinate amounts of chocolate mints. We talked about absolutely nothing, but in the words of Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail, all those nothings meant more than so many somethings.
4) Our 7-car convoy navigating our way across southeast Michigan from Bloomfield Hills to downtown Birmingham to Pontiac without once losing anyone. I can't even begin to describe how cool we are for accomplishing that...
3) Marta reading an email from Josh he wrote 2 years ago just as he and Christine were going out saying how he would one day ask this woman to marry him. The newlyweds looked like they would have cried into their dinner entrees.
4) Two words: Hokey-Pokey (or is that one word?). And I'll just leave it at that.

All in all, I was just plain happy to see everybody again. The photos are up here, and I can't wait for the next wedding (I'm not naming names...) so we can do this all over again... :)
What a feeling in my soul
Love burns brighter than sunshine
Brighter than sunshine
Let the rain fall, I don't care
I'm yours and suddenly you're mine
Suddenly you're mine
and it's brighter than sunshine.
- Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung (from Josh & Christine's wedding program)

Student feedback



I am in the midst of getting student feedback for my teaching and this video got me on the floor. Now I am wondering whether all the feedback this lecturer got was from one class, and if so ... where did all the sexy comments come from???

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Make it work!

[I spoiler tagged the parts about the results so I won't ruin the fun for those of you not in the U.S. Only scroll over (or highlight if you're an IE user) if you want to know who won Season 3 of Project Runway.]

Julie's silhouette
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Jeffrey won???!!! C'mon... My bet was on Uli, who's just such a lovely person. She was the first to hug Jeffrey after Tim Gunn announced that he was still in the competition, and with such genuine affection. And her clothes! Beautiful!! I've always loved her designs, and just as you thought she was going to be just a one-trick pony, she wowed everyone today with that stunning line.

In the end, we figured Jeffrey won because his clothes were more haute coutureesque, whereas Uli's didn't exactly break new ground. Jeffrey's definitely the more innovative of the two, but still, his *&^%$#@! attitude throughout the whole season notwithstanding, I just didn't think he deserved to win the same way Uli did.


The show aside, a bunch of friends and I came up with what we feel is an inspired idea to celebrate Halloween (sorta) early, and dress up for the finale in show of our support for Project Runway in general, and Tim Gunn in particular (isn't he just everyone's favorite teacher??). The theme is to come dressed either as a designer, a judge, or one of the challenges. The party, ladies and gentlemen, was a complete and utter blast!! Check it out here.

Most people turned up as the Black and White challenge (some even hand-made their outfits!), but there were a few sublime exceptions. Jude taught today till 8.30 so in the absence of a special outfit, we said he was going as the "Elle Editorial- An outfit to best capture your style" challenge, which in his case, if anyone asks, is geek chic... ;) I had problems figuring out which challenge my outfit would best capture, and in the end, I guess it's the International Jetsetter challenge (because it's kind of dressy but comfy and travels well) meets Couture (because it's sparkly). I had to "walk the runway" barefeet though coz I couldn't bring myself to buy a pair of shoes just to match my outfit. It seemed to work; although neither one of us won prizes for Most Imaginative, Best Presentation, or Most Like the Show, I got a prize just for how sparkly my skirt was :)

So yes, now you know what grad students are really like beneath our geeky facade. In reality, we actually don't study at all and have a lot of time on our hands which we spend by getting together in weird outfits and celebrating our collective nerdiness by drinking beer and watching TV. Ahh... the sweet life :)

Simple "bento" lunch


Simple lunch
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Jude and I make it point to bring our own lunch to school everyday. It's so much cheaper, and also much healthier and more satisfying than say a slice of pizza or take-out. More often than not it's leftovers from dinner (we just make larger portions of everything to last us a few days), but today, we didn't have any and I just ran out of ideas.

So it was return-to-basics-raid-the-pantry time. I decided to go simple and just cooked up some brown rice, roasted a couple of portabello mushroooms with garlic, fried up some franks, and sprinkled the rice with furikake. Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning made of dried seaweed, sesame seeds, salt and sugar (as with almost everything these days, it of course has it's own Wikipedia entry...). The one we have also has dried salmon flakes. It's a staple for Japanese school-kids and simply the easiest way to make rice tasty. I could have a bowl of rice with just a generous sprinkling of furikake anytime- it's that yummy!

'Tis a simple lunch, but satisfying in a homely, comforting sort of way :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Evolution of Beauty

Check out this inspired new ad from Dove as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty movement.

Produced by Ogilvy & Mather, it's a biting indictment of the manufactured nature of "beauty" as conventionally perpetuated. The ad's also a sobering call to recognize that the only difference between the regular Jane Doe down on the street and that supermodel up there on the billboard is the luxury of tons of make-up, a good hairstylist, a skilled photographer, and a nifty computer program.

This has been a while coming... Thanks Dove.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Go!

As much as I enjoy running, at the end of the day, I don't kid myself by thinking that it is one of my great loves. Some people are really passionate about the sport they play- basketball, swimming, tennis, competitive channel surfing... For me ultimately, running is a means to an end, there's little pleasure involved. And while the adrenaline does give me a high for a while, it really is mostly pain, cathartic as it is.

Which is why this Ok Go video tickles me to no end. On top of being impeccably cheorographed and side-splittingly funny (there's something about four geeks in suits on a threadmill that's somehow perversely alluring to me...), I'm assailed by the cognitive schism of how someone has managed to fashion what is essentially a torture machine to me into an instrument of art. If for nothing else, these geek chic poster-boys deserve an award.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Of cows and snow


Moo cards
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Yay! My Moo cards finally arrived today! I ordered them 3 weeks ago and was almost convinced they got lost in the mail... But they're here and they're pretty :) I only chose the pictures of the wallpapers I made so they'll match my webpage and also because this way, Jude can choose from the rest of our Flickr photos when he makes his cards. The cardstock Moo uses is good and heavy so the namecards don't feel like the kind that you run off at Kinko's. They are really puny though (see relative size) and when you hold them together, they almost feel like the cards you use to play chap jee kee*.

On a totally different note, MY BEST FRIEND ARRVIES TOMORROW!!! She'll be visiting for the weekend on her way to Minneapolis for corporate training. I've missed her so much and it'll be so nice to see her again. But...

It's going to SNOW here for the next two days.

Remind me again what month it is? And I bet it's not even going to be pretty snow, but probably eeky, slushly, wet and gross snow... :( Whatever... she & I figured we can always just stay indoors, have hot chocolate with marshmallows, and watch Meg Ryan movies all weekend long. Jude can join us too... ;)

*A gambling game popular among Straits-born Chinese played by four players using narrow cards based on the 12 pieces in Chinese chess.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Weird Science

We were disappointed. And not just because we had psyched ourselves up too much for it. You think- a Michel Gondry film with Gael Garcia Bernal. What could go wrong? Quite a bit apparently.

What made Eternal Sunshine one of our favorite movies is that despite its lovely impish charm, at its core, it has a soul- a poignant, and oftentimes devastating narrative. It's about a love so hardwired into your very being that even modern science can't reach it. You may be able to erase memories, but you can't erase destiny. Science of Sleep on the other, in Jude's words, is a victim of its own cutesiness. Without the origami mind of Charlie Kaufmann, Michel Gondry's writing and directing exude more whimsy than anything else. It's charming for sure, and the whole stop-motion animation and papier-mâché props are delightful for their childlikeness; but at the end of the day, that's about all there is. I guess I understand his whole the unconscious as governed by its own perverse logic and the blurring of dream and reality spiel, but like Stephane's one-second time machine, the film is interesting for that moment, but then nothing much more.

It wasn't without its redeeming moments though: the scenes of Stephane directing his own dream sequences as if it were a TV show were definitely TiVo-worthy; I love Charlotte Gainsborough's crisp French/ British accent and slightly kooky disposition; how can you not be enamoured by water made from cellophane and a felt-cloth Noah's Ark of handmade trees?; and like Eternal Sunshine, what's a Michel Gondry film without a sweet soundtrack? This track is particularly enchanting, resonating the dream-like whimsy that is so much of the movie.

So ultimately, watching Science of Sleep was a lot like eating cotton candy- it conjured sweet memories of a childhood suspended, with moments of laughter and delight- nothing particularly sad or upsetting; but in the same measure, because of that, like cotton candy, it was also neither very substantial, nor terribly satisfying.

Friday, October 06, 2006

WTF, what's with the white rabbit on the blue bus?



As I got on the UM Blue Bus bound for central campus this morning, I noticed that one of the passengers in front of me had a larger than usual head. In fact, as I observed him/her/it more carefully, this passenger appeared to be a larger than life ... a RABBIT. WTF man!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities

Ok, so my Lost counter has counted down its last second, I've watched the season premiere, and I must say, this girl is one happy camper! :) From the jaw-dropping, "OMG!-are-you-messing-with-me?" opening 5 minutes, to one of the creepiest breakfasts ever shown on TV, to the heart-meltingly sweet Kate and Sawyer reunion, I was riveted. Transfixed. Awe-struck.

Without spoiling it too much for those of you who haven't watched it yet (I think Season 3 isn't going to start in Singapore till later this year, if not next), let's just say this season opener is way better than the first episode of Season 2. Less claustrophobic, more expansive. And I'm not just talking geography. It's about obsession, pride, civility, and... nourishment. You'll know what I mean. My only disappointment is that we didn't get to see the rest of the Losties like Locke and my new favorite character, Desmond (whose middle and last names are David and Hume. You put two and two together...) Love that Scott'ish burr, brudah!

Guess who's going to watch it again tomorrow when ABC.com loads a repeat up on the website?
Most of the time, we live our lives within invisible systems, blissfully unaware of the artificial life, the intensely designed infrastructures that support them. Accidents, disasters, crises — [when] systems fail we become temporarily conscious of the extraordinary force and power of design, and the effects that it generates. Every accident provides a brief moment of awareness of real life, what is actually happening, and our dependence on the underlying systems of design. Every plane crash is a rupture, a shock to the system, precisely because our experience of flight is so carefully designed away from the reality of the event. As we sip champagne, read the morning paper, and settle in before takeoff, we choose not to experience the torque, the thrust, the speed, the altitude, the temperature, the thousands of pounds of explosive jet fuels cradled beneath us, the infinite complexity of onboard systems, and the very real risks and dangers of takeoff and landing.
-Bruce Mau, Massive Change

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thriller redux Indian style



Found this via MrBrown.com. I concur with him, this is wrong on so many levels :O

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Countdown

Just one more day people. By 9pm tonight, it'll all be a matter of hours...

Jude teaches till 8.30 tomorrow night and I'll be d@%*ed if we don't make it back by 9pm. Apparently the first 5 minutes will take your breath away (or so say the message boards and the people who've watched the premiere in Hawaii over the weekend).

As emotionally compelled as I am by the relationships on the show (ok fine, one relationship in particular...) that one hour every week isn't easy on the mind either. We're talking myths galore, literary connections, philosophical underpinnings and pop culture references. If you want to do some homework on what's been invoked so far (and I'm sure will continue to be in the new season), you only have slightly more than 30 hours to wrap your head around:
Don DeLillo's Underworld. Alan Moore's The Watchmen. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. The Book of Revelations. John Locke. David Hume. The Greek word thipsis. John Mayer's ''Waiting for the World to Change". Creed's "My Own Prison". The lost continent of Mu. All things H.G. Wells. Pink Floyd. George Orwell. P.S. Shelley's "Ozymandias". The defunct performance art/electronica band The KLF. Charles Dickens. The word oulipo.

To psych you up for tomorrow, here's a video of all the promos that've been aired to date:

Be still my beating heart, be still...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hello Kyra!


I'm an aunt (again)!

My cousin, Brigid, had her first baby, Kyra last week and here she is in all her delicate bundled sweetness.

Congratulations cuz, and I hope you and Leonard get some sleep!
A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.
-Carl Sandburg