Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Singapore Complaints Choir

"I see such media coverage as growing awareness that we are not the same old dull cultural desert but rapidly gaining international mindshare as an exciting, vibrant and creative city."

- Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts, referring to the Smithsonian magazine article "Singapore Swing"

*Update* Just found a short Reuters report about the choir here.

The Complaints Choir is a traveling community arts project founded by two Finnish artists, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. The idea is really simply, get ordinary folks involved in the arts by getting them to voice their pet daily peeves. The concept has proven quite successful and different versions of the complaints choir idea has popped up in many countries around the world. Singapore was to be the next stop in a performance as part of the M1 Arts Festival Fringe, performing in public venues such as Speakers Corner, the Esplanade etc.

However, those performances were not meant to be. The Singapore Police issued only a conditional performance license for the choir last week (despite the fact this choir has been on the drawing board for the Arts Festival since September of last year- see Channelnewsasia article here); apparently the condition for performance is that no foreigners are allowed to complain sing with the choir in public places. A handful of the choir members, the conductor and the directors of the project are non-Singaporeans. So the choir decided to scrap all public performances. Instead, there was an indoor private performance for friends and family with the full choir. And guess what, it's on YouTube. I've embedded it below for your viewing pleasure along with the lyrics which I lifted of MrBrown (see his original post here) who in turn lifted it off chillycraps.

You get the sense that there's a triumphant glee in this performance - that despite the absurd and kafka-esque efforts of the Singapore authorities, the choir still got heard in all it's full Singaporean and non-Singaporean glory! :)

We get fined for almost anything
Drivers won't give chance when you want to change lane
The indoors are cold, the outdoors are hot;
And the humid air, it wrecks my hair
Those answering machines always make you hold
Only to hang up on you

When a pregnant lady gets on the train
Everyone pretends to be asleep
I'm stuck with my parents till I'm 35
Cause I can't apply for HDB
We don't recycle any plastic bags
But we purify our pee

What's wrong with Singapore?
Losing always makes me feel so sore
Cause if you're not the best
Then you're just one of the rest

My oh my Singapore
What exactly are we voting for?
What's not expressly permitted
is prohibited


When I'm hungry at the food court, I see
People chope seats with their tissue paper
To the auntie staying upstairs:
Your laundry's dripping on my bed sheets
Please don't squat on the toilet seats
And don't clip your nails on MRT

Stray cats get into noisy affairs
At night my neighbor makes weird animal sounds
People put on fake accents to sound posh
And queue up 3 hours for donuts
Will I ever live till eighty five
to collect CPF?


Singaporeans too kiasu! (so scared to lose)
Singaporeans too kiasi! (so scared to die)
Singaporeans too kiabor! (scared of their wives)
Maybe we’re just too stressed out! (even the kids)


Old National Library was replaced by an ugly tunnel
Singaporean men can’t take independent women
People blow their nose into the swimming pool (and pee too)
And fall asleep on my shoulder in the train

Singapore’s national bird is the crane (the one with yellow steel girders)
Real estate agents’ leaflets clogging up my mailbox (en bloc, en bloc, en bloc, en bloc)
Why can’t we be buried when we die?
No one wants to climb Bukit Timah with me


There are not enough public holidays
My neighbor sings KTV all night
Wedding dinners never start on time
My hair is always cut shorter than I want
Channel 5 commercials are way too long
Why do men turn bald?

At first it was to speak more mandarin
Then it was to speak proper English
What’s wrong with my powderful Singlish?

People sit down during rock concerts
We have to pay for tap water at restaurants
ERP gantries are everywhere
But I can still see traffic jams on the road
All the bus stops have tilted benches
Cannot access playboy.com


Sunday, January 27, 2008

We're Lost...

In so many senses of the word... ;)
[Click for larger image]
Copyright Jorge Cham

Counting down 4 days!...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Anyone Else But You

It's one of those inexplicable things- throw together a lovely, quirky little song (plus clever lyrics...), two untrained voices trembling with just that right touch of adolescent yearning, and a montage of poignantly funny scenes, and you get one incredibly moving video.

The first time I heard the song (this version of it at least), I felt like I was 15 again- that time in your life when all you needed was a smile from your crush to make your day, and a fight with your best friend turned your whole world upside down. It made me happy and sad all at the same time...

And I haven't even seen the film yet!!
You're a part time lover and a full time friend
The monkey on you're back is the latest trend
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of a train
I kiss you all starry eyed, my body's swinging from side to side
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

Here is the church and here is the steeple
We sure are cute for two ugly people
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

The pebbles forgive me, the trees forgive me
So why can't, you forgive me?
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

I will find my nitch in your car
With my mp3 DVD rumple-packed guitar
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

Du du du du du du dudu
Du du du du du du dudu
Du du du du du du dudu du

Up up down down left right left right B A start
Just because we use cheats doesn't mean we're not smart
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

You are always trying to keep it real
I'm in love with how you feel
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

We both have shiny happy fits of rage
You want more fans, I want more stage
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

Don Quixote was a steel driving man
My name is Adam I'm your biggest fan
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

Squinched up your face and did a dance
You shook a little turd out of the bottom of your pants
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

Du du du du du du dudu
Du du du du du du dudu
Du du du du du du dudu du
But you...

- "Anyone Else But You" (originally performed by The Moldy Peaches)

Listen to the original on The Moldy Peaches MySpace page.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger?? What??!!

Heath Ledger found dead

I can't believe this... And just a week after I blogged about him in the upcoming Batman movie. I was also just reading an article about him over the weekend.

The Oscar nominations came out this morning- 2 years ago today, he received one. He was an actor who could have been great...

I'm quite in a bit of a shock...

That's Prof. Def to you now!

Serene and I attended Mos Def and his band's tribute to J. Dilla last night at the Hill Auditorium. It was an awesome show, but what took the cake was not so much the show itself; rather, it was the King/Chavez/Parks Visiting Professor Award that was presented to Mos Def. The show was a part of UM's MLK day symposium and I thought it was extremely appropriate to not just present a tribute to J. Dilla on that day, but I think that by giving the award to Mos Def, they've given it to a most deserving recipient. You can watch the presentation of the award in the video below (which I lifted from tiffanybee, thx :) )

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling...

1. Peel, 2. Nestled closely, 3. Batter over, 4. Dusted with powdered sugar

I don't often blog about cooking disappointments, like the time my tofu dumplings disintegrated in the miso soup, or when my chicken gumbo ended up all mushy and sticky. And does anybody really want to hear about my sorry attempt at making Nigella's mini cheese pancakes for breakfast? (don't ask-- we ended up just having cereal...) But today, I will share the beautiful disaster that was my clementine clafoutis.

Sometimes, I make things even though I wonder seriously if they will actually taste good. Like baking citrus in batter. But why, you ask? Because one must always hope. And I like to be proven wrong once in a while. And surprised, maybe. What's the fun in the kitchen if things always went the way you expect? Besides, I had never made a clafoutis before and thought it might be an interesting way to use up the handful of clementines we had lying around. I was also inspired by this article in the NYT Dining section and Julia Child's recipe for Cherry Clafoutis I had scribbled from the library some time ago (I was too lazy to cart the giant recipe book home...). I love clementines-- in Singapore, they're called mandarin oranges and are particularly popular during the lunar new year. We've missed the festival every year since we've been here and because of that, these little oranges always remind me of home...

Anyways, as I waited for the clafoutis to bake, I had delectable visions of digging into a luscious custard blanketing little burstfuls of citrusy goodness. Snow was swirling outside and all we wanted was to dig into a nice warm dessert while watching Batman Begins. The dessert frenzy was intense. But alas, it was not to be. I should have trusted my gut. There was a reason why I had never baked citrus. There's also a reason why I love clementines the way I've always eaten them-- fresh and bursting with natural sweetness. Not baked dry with a bitter tang. Boo.

I have to admit, the final thing looked beautiful-- gorgeous, even-- sprinkled all pretty with powdered sugar. I’m trying not to be too sad though since I may or may not have picked most of the segments off my slice and just eaten the delicious baked custard underneath, which was the real revelation. Next time, same custard, but with pears or plums. Or Julia's classic cherries. One day, I will allow myself to be surprised again in the kitchen, just not with oranges.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

10 Suckin' Years!

Ever since The Daily Show came back after the writer's strike began, Jude and I have been seeing subtle differences in the format of the show- guests stay and chat a little longer, Jon Stewart works the crowd a little more, the correspondents have more air-time compared to before when Jon Stewart did most of the "news" delivery, and the tenor of the show is just that little wobbly, and not as incisive as before. But Thursday night was just pure genius. Pure genius, people... And it featured my all-time favorite Daily Show correspondent, the absolutely inspired John Oliver :)

I have to say that the mock aggrandizing of the Monica Lewinsky scandal is simply not as funny or half as precious as the wonderful comic chemistry between the two guys. You see two men, confident and at ease with their wit and each other, having just a ball of a time! Jude and I are convinced that the entire exchange about the flashback to 1998 Jon Stewart was completely improv on the spot, which explains why they could barely contain their own laughter... We watched this on the first run on Thursday night, again yesterday when it re-ran, and I'll watch it again and again. It's a classic!

Friday, January 18, 2008

"That's great, it starts with an earthquake..."

Two years before Billy Joel gave the world a crash course in American history with "We Didn't Start the Fire", R.E.M had released a better precursor to this kind of stream of consciousness, rapid-fire, half-spoken, half-sung vocal style. One of my favorite R.E.M songs, "It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" came out in 1987 and was reputedly written by Michael Stipe after he dreamt that he was at a birthday party where all the other guests had the initials L.B., hence the references to Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs in the song. I think it's a little eerie how prescient the lyrics are, and how, after 20 years, the irony of the song still resonates with so much of our reality today.

So anyway, I saw this on YouTube yesterday and was reminded that Boing Boing had posted something on this late last year. Who figured President Bush as an R.E.M fan?

Apparently, he loves U2 as well... :)
That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane- Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn- world serves its own needs, regardless of your own needs. Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt no, strength no. Ladder structure clatter with fear of height, down height. Wire in a fire, represent the seven games in a government for hire and a combat site. Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the Furies breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered crop. Look at that low plane! Fine then. Uh oh, overflow, population, common group, but it'll do. Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right - right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign tower. Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn. Lock him in uniform and book burning, blood letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate. Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down. Watch a heel crush, crush. Uh oh, this means no fear - cavalier. Renegade and steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide. Mountains sit in a line. Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You symbiotic, patriotic, slam, but neck, right? Right.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine...fine...

(It's time I had some time alone)

- R.E.M., "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

14 days...

[click for promo trailer]

Oooh, goody, goody!... :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

OMG, I'm bleeding heart politcally liberal, economically left-leaning, social progressive!

So the Michigan primary is in a couple of days. And having never voted before, I thought that I should see where I stand in the event that I would be able to vote. I found this nifty little Electoral Compass that allows you to see which of the presidential candidates best represents your beliefs and opinions. It's a neat little web app that "measures" your political stance through questions on "hot button issues" like the Iraq war or abortion rights. Based on your responses, it charts a visualization of where you stand in relation to the presidential candidates. (see image above).

I've long suspected that I am a little lefty, but this proves it once and for all ;) (although, I have to say that I haven't been impressed with any of the candidates in the televised debates and the shenanigans they get up to while on the campaign trail.) I guess this means if any of them wants my vote, they're going to have to advocate a radical re-distributive tax system, introduce universal health care, rejoin the Kyoto protocol and do something about global warming, revoke the Patriot Act, re-direct money from the war to improving America's schools, and invest in alternative fuel sources. Not too much to ask, is it? ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thanks to Herman Miller

A symbol of the rise and fall of the dot-com industry in the late 1990s, the Herman Miller Aeron Chair has been regarded as one of the most well-designed chairs in recent generations because of the way it combines comfort, support and design. So much so that it was inducted permanently into MOMA's Architecture and Design collection. Jude and I lust after it every time we see it on display at Three Chairs downtown, but know that we can never afford it because with the groundbreaking design comes a prohibitively expensive price-tag. The base model goes for at least US$950 first-hand, and if you want to customize features, it can go all the way up to US$1400. It was just something we knew we would never be able to buy, at least not on a grad student budget.

Until today.

So on New Year's Day, while stomping through the snow, I threw out my back and it's been hurting ever since. The pain was most unbearable for the first few days until I went to see the doctor, got some medication, and started physical therapy. My therapist says I need to significantly modify the way I stand, sit, walk, and move around in general if I want my muscles to heal quickly. Which is why we've taken to sleeping on the futon instead of the bed because it's firmer, and I've had to switch out of carrying my back-pack to carrying a side-sling messenger bag instead. And being the dear that he is, Jude has also been browsing online for a better chair for me since I spend so much time working on the computer. And that was where we found it: a second-hand original Aeron chair on Craigslist for sale in Dexter, 20 minutes away from us. Because it's second-hand, it's SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than what we would have paid at Three Chairs, and because it's a Herman Miller, we figured that if we eventually decide to sell it, its resale value would still be higher than if we had invested in a brand-new mattress and had to sell that.

Oh, it is such a piece of design heaven, I have to admit... I'm sitting on it right now as I type, and my back hasn't felt this comforted in weeks. Almost every piece of this chair is adjustable; for example, the arm rests can be elevated such that it supports your elbows as you type. Ingenious, I tell you... ingenious. And the ergonomic slant of the back support means I don't have to prop a pillow behind me like my therapist suggested- the chair is designed to cradle the curve of your back, forcing you to sit in an optimal position.

I may never work in school in again... :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dark Knight

Those of you who've been reading the blog long enough and/or know me well enough, know that my heart loves only one comic-book superhero. Yes, it's hard to resist the strength and power of Superman (inside-out underwear or not), or the agility and arachnid wit of Spidey; but for this girl, it has- and always will be- the sad, mysterious brooding of the Dark Knight.

More than two years ago, I blogged about watching Batman Begins, and how it resurrected the Batman franchise from the purgatory of sequel hell (what with Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin). Last night, I watched the trailer for the new sequel, The Dark Knight, and almost lost the ability to breathe... It doesn't reveal very much, but for one, just watching Heath Ledger's The Joker, you know you're not going to get the deranged camp of Jack Nicholson's take on the villain. This Joker appears truly menacing, and utterly and completely demented- in other words, the most deliciously sinister Batman villain we may see to date. It's hard to look at him and remember that this is the same carefree teenager who sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" in Ten Things I Hate About You.

I can't wait till summer... can you? :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bourdain in Singapore

[click for Anthony Bourdain's NYT article on food in Singapore]

As if we don' love the man enough already- Jude and I just watched the new season premiere of No Reservations and guess where Anthony Bourdain was today? Singapore! It was the most enjoyable hour of TV in a long time- so comforting, so joyous and just watching him visit and eat at all the familiar places from home truly truly warmed the cockles of this girl's heart :) From his foray into chicken rice at the Maxwell Road Market to his sucking and slurping experience with sup tulang (beef bone stew) at the Golden Mile Hawker Center (where he described the color of the stew as a "eerie, lurid, not-seen-in-nature red"), we were completely and utterly transfixed. And really, I never thought hearing Anthony Bourdain say "bak chor mee" could move me almost to tears... :)

What we liked best about today's episode was how Bourdain really got his finger on the pulse of Singapore's obsession with food. Especially how everyone has a different idea of what to eat, and how to eat it. Like in what order or combination does one deal with the chilli, ginger and dark soy sauce with chicken rice? (I personally prefer the dark soy sauce on the rice and dip the chicken in the ginger and chili separately...) Or the one segment at the Grand Hyatt Singapore's Straits Cafe where for the second time in 24 hours, Bourdain was given unsolicited advice about food, in this case, on the best way to eat roast duck (ask for a whole leg, un-chopped). It was hilarious seeing how truly flabbergasted he was at this exacting, almost pathological relationship Singaporeans have with food, to which the duck guy responded, "It's the only freakin' heritage we have!" And that, ladies and gentleman, in Jude and my opinion, is the best line on television in a looooong time! :)

The episode ended with Bourdain sitting with a group of retirees and Singapore food expert, KF Seetoh, creator of the Makansutra (a guide to Singapore food). Over copious amounts of ice-cold Heineken beer, a huge plate of roast pork and idle chitchat at a hawker center just a stone's throw away from Jude's parents' place, Anthony Bourdain waxed lyrical about how some day, he would be fortunate enough to spend his golden years just like that- with good food and good friends, hopefully somewhere close to Singapore :)

Oh, and testimony to how much we enjoyed the episode, we were all ready to watch all over again the re-run that came immediately after.

And we did :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

SeaStars 2007 - Album Review

The era of the closet amateur musician/artist is here! And SeaStars 2007 is evidence that all that's needed for today's home musician is the will and desire to put your stuff out there. This first time effort between Adrian Loo and Ivan Chew is a textbook case of how the production, publicity and distribution of the album was aided by technology and the internet. As highlighted by the album's blog, the duo collaborated mainly via email and "didn’t sit down to compose anything together. It was “pass-me-the-MP3-and-add-my-track-on-top-of-it” mash-up style." With much of the album collaboratively produced in their free time, the music attempts to weave a narrative of a journey from the sea to the stars.

In this reviewer's mind, the tracks definitely fall into the category of "New Age" music with elements of nature (e.g. dolphin chirps, sounds of waves) layered between of Adrian's and Ivan's instrumental arrangements. Composed entirely on Garageband, each song segues seamlessly into each, occasionally making it difficult to tell if one has moved onto another track. Ivan has solicited for reviews from bloggers in his network and one common criticism has been that the tracks seem similar to each other after a while. I have to agree and feel that this issue is a result of the form of collaborative production (emailing tracks back and forth) between Ivan and Adrian.

Maybe something to consider for the next iteration of the album would be to not tackle something as ambitious as a whole album in one go. Perhaps, taking the approach of famous music podcaster "Poddington Bear" - who releases a new song every alternate day, the duo might think about releasing one track at a time? This might allow some variation in the tracks and may firm up the journey narrative that Ivan and Adrian are trying to achieve. Adrian and Ivan might get feedback even earlier from their fans and critics if they blog each track as they go. The album will come together as a result.

The standout track on the album for me so far has to be "Flowing with the waves". It's an interesting track that sits in the middle of the album (and hence between the stars and the sea?). The track starts off with an acoustic riff, but as it moves along, an electric guitar takes over and introduces the melodic theme of the track. The instrumentation here is very good and the performance of the track is all heart and communicates the track's message of just going with the tides and currents. I believe this is what makes the amateur artist in the era of the internet stand out - the belief and sincerity of their work. And more importantly, to play like you're having fun in this whole endeavor. To be the rock stars that you could never be in the humdrum mundaneness of the daily job and life :)

You can get your hands on a copy of the album at the following URL: http://www.archive.org/details/ivanchew_testupload5_seastars2007 (expires end Jan. 2008)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hedonist Chocolates on TV!!!

[click for video link]

Just got this off Facebook. Our friends Jennie & Zahra were profiled by their local Rochester, NY news station about their up and coming business Hedonist Chocolates. Big props to Jennie and Zahra for coming so far with this business venture! We're sure we'll be hearing more of them in the near future! :)

Without reservations

Ever since watching the DVD, "Decoding Ferran Adria" hosted by Anthony Bourdain, Jude and I have become increasingly fascinated by this brash no-nonsense, try-everything-once, chain-smoking, border-alcoholic, Rachel-Ray-hating host-chef-New Yorker-restaurateur-writer. The DVD itself is a riveting look into a kitchen unlike any other- a lab almost- that of Spanish chef, Ferran Adria, known for his experimental , surrealistic creations. But its Bourdain's eloquence, acerbic wit, openness to new experiences, and particular roguish charm that engages you almost as much as all the molecular gastronomy of Adrai's El Bulli restaurant.

We've been getting our almost daily dose of Bourdain these days by watching his show, No Reservations on the Travel Channel. And you know what? This guy knows food. Okay, duh... that's like saying Meryl Streep is just an actress. But I mean that in the most essential of ways. Not just how to cook it, or how expensive the ingredients are. He appreciates food for what it conveys and its very elemental place in human existence. Talking about the cuisine recreated by Russian émigrés in Brooklyn, he says after putting a forkful of perfectly stewed rabbit in his mouth, "Someone cares." As in this is food made not just for profit or just for filling stomachs; it means something to someone back there in the kitchen. This food has soul.

Today's episode featured him in China and one segment of it really stood out for Jude and I. So often these days- whether it's at restaurants or even in home-cooking- you hear of people spending wads of money on what is most expensive, most rare, most esoteric, most exclusive. We're talking your truffles, expensive artisan hams, caviar, exotic unattainable fruits, etc. And yet, in the words of my new celebrity crush in-waiting,
...the true measure of the greatness of a culture is exemplified by what its poorest and most rural people cook. Food that tastes good because it has to be good. How to make the tough, the bland, the humble into something truly special- this is where, throughout history and across the globe, cooks are made."
- Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations, Beijing and Chengdu episode
He was invited to the home of rural farmers and served what must have been a week's worth of food for this family. It was simple fare- steamed yams, pickled chilli peppers, preserved field rabbits, fried corn, and everything else that grew in their humble backyard, harvested and cooked in honor of their visiting foreign guest. This is a man who is best friends with some of the most exclusive chefs in the country and has access to some of the most expensive restaurants in the world, and yet in this little village kitchen in the heart of China, he lapped up simple rural fare with the gusto, grace and gratitude of someone savoring his last meal.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Radiohead new year greeting

To ring in the new year, Radiohead pre-recorded and broadcast a recording of all the tracks from the new album at midnight (EST) Dec. 31st. I missed the broadcast, but Current TV has archived the broadcast, titled Scotch Mist - A film with Radiohead in it, for all who have missed it. I've actually never seen Radiohead perform live (with the exception of the Creep music video) and was pretty blown away by the quality of the sound in the broadcast. Also, interspersed between performances there are weird imagery and poetry readings as well. Listen and watch for yourself above and let me know what you think. I am a fan so ...

The new year :)

1. New Year snow, 2. Serene in the snow in her PJs, 3. Molten chocolate lava cake, 4. Frozen berry fruits, 5. Gooey goodness inside, 6. Giant snowflakes

Happy (orange) New Year, everyone! Yes, orange. Because that was the color of the sky when Jude and I went out in the snow just past midnight last night. See here, here, and here. I kid you not. It was dumping snow and we couldn't resist going out even though we were already in our PJs. And this morning, we woke up to ten inches of snow. Someone tell me this is not typical...

New Year's Eve was quiet, just the two of us. After the heady festivities of Christmas, it was nice to just stay in and relax while the snow storm raged outside. We made a home-cooked dinner, watched episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations (the guy's a genius... we're hooked!), and wished each other a happy new year while the ball dropped for the 100th time in Times Square. We didn't have plans for New Year's so we slept in. I made simple baked eggs for brunch which while elegant, was also comforting in its own oozy, gooey way, kinda like how my mom and dad would have half-boiled eggs at home, except made fancier with accouterments and baked in a ramekin . Who knew?... And only because it's the new year, dessert was mini molten lava cakes with homemade whipped cream and fresh blackberry sauce. Nothing screams "Happy New Year!" like deep-dark, intense chocolatey goodness, if you ask me... :)

Since we've been staying home the past few days, we thought it'll be a good idea to talk a walk outside for some fresh air, which in light of last night's storm, meant trudging through MUCH snow. But it was fun, and because it's the holiday today and some of the smaller pathways weren't plowed, much of North Campus was just blanketed in pristine, powdery snow. It's really pretty actually and I'm glad we walked. Not a typical New Year's for Serene Koh, that's for sure, but a beautiful one nonetheless...

I hope all of you are enjoying an equally relaxing and inspired New Year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


For the past two years, we've spent New Year's at home, and being caught up in the festivities and celebration, we never really got a chance to reflect back over each year, remembering what it was that made it special. This year, with a little more quiet time to myself to be pensive- in the words of my dearest best friend- I thought it'll be nice to look back over the year to all the things that made 2007 memorable...

1) Jude kicked off 2007 in a big way by meeting Hiroshi Ishii in person when we were still home in January.
2) We experienced our very first ice storm in all its insane, treacherous beauty.
3) I finally picked up- and promptly fell in love with- yoga after years of thinking about it.
4) The Cooks and Cooneys brought us sledding for the first time!
5) Having not seen her in three years, my cousin, Jean, came to visit from Hong Kong :)
6) Our friends, Zahra and Jennie started their own handmade chocolate business, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. Yay!
7) We visited Terence, Stan and Susan in Boston, my first time in Beantown.
8) Chipotle finally opened in Ann Arbor! Apart from the Mexican taqueiras in Ypsi, we've gone nowhere else for our burritos...
9) We went curling for the first time in Windsor, where I promptly slipped on the ice and hit my head hard. Way to remember the experience...
10) We "celebrated" St. Patrick's Day with Rick, Emilee and Kumo with our first corned beef dinner complete with homemade Irish bread.
11) My old friend from secondary school, Shirlyn, launched her first solo album in Singapore. She's apparently been getting a lot of radio play back home and was nominated for a couple of music awards! Really happy for her :)
12) I went to my first baseball game in Lansing. I still don't quite get the game, but the atmosphere was awesome, and the company, even better!
13) After putting it off for years and spending another several months planning the design and content, Jude and I finally got our personal websites up and running.
14) One of my best friends here, a.k.a. the Four-Year-Old Next Door, Audrey, and her mom, Tia moved away from Ann Arbor when Tia graduated... We still miss our old neighbors terribly, but thanks to Facebook, we still keep in touch. Apparently, Audrey's becoming quite the chess whiz! :)
15) I got my brand new Mac for $127.48. Never have I been more thankful for an Excel spreadsheet...
16) Watching Damien Rice "live". Enough said...
17) I got my first publication out :)
18) My sister, Sherri got engaged!
19) We saw Sonic Youth play Daydream Nation "live" at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Phenomenal...
20) We caved in to Wii-mania and bought one for Jude's parents and one for ourselves. It was inevitable...
21) Jude watched Mercury Rev "live" in Singapore.
22) We were finally home to celebrate my dad's, my mom's, and my grandma's birthday's with them. Until this year, we were never home in August.
23) Our first- and hopefully not last- tamale party at Libby's and Molly's :)
24) I dragged Jude to the Buffy Sing-a-long Musical Extravaganza and had the time of my life!
25) If nothing else, culinarily speaking, I can now say that I roast a fairly mean chicken :)
26) We welcomed to the world our nephew, Aiden!
27) In 2007, I watched two "musicals" that now have a permanent place on my for-repeated-watching-favorite-movies list- Across the Universe and Once.
28) I rediscovered my love for Scrabble after signing up for Facebook and promptly becoming addicted to Scrabulous. I now look at combinations of letters and immediately try to look for words within them. It's not healthy, really...
29) Added two new favorite bands to my playlist, Rilo Kiley and Au Revior Simone. It always makes a year when you discover lovely new sounds :)
30) I finally made candidacy and am now one step closer to completing this darn degree...
31) After two years of not seeing them, I finally caught up with Yong and Beryl again in Austin!
32) Celebrated our first Christmas in Ann Arbor with our wonderful friends here. Thank you for making what we thought would be a depressing holiday away from home so warm and joyous!

And to round things off, we just want to thank all of you who read the blog for sharing all these wonderful memories with us this year! Happy New Year!