Sunday, June 29, 2008

I hold a wish for you live - 12th July, 1700hrs



I have long been an admirer of Ricks Ang and April Lee's work as aspidistrafly. Somehow, I always associate their music with my trips back to Singapore. Their music is a little melancholic, nostalgic, ethereal etc. You can check out what they sound like on their MySpace page. Also, check out their webpage for their photographic work too. Love their use of sky ... lots of sky in their photos :)

My favorite aspidistrafly track by far:

aspidistraflyStranger, Here is Where We Live


What makes this trip back to SG even sweeter is the ability to catch them live. They are launching their new album "I hold a wish for you" and performing live as well. The details of the event are as follows:

12th July (SAT) @iSHOP (by Club 21), Orchard Cineleisure Level 3
「i hold a wish for you」instore live
LIVE : aspidistrafly
open/start : 17:00
tickets : FREE

Again, an open call for anyone interested in attending this event with me?

Things to do before I leave

1. Clean the house (I know it seems counter-intuitive, but I can't imagine anything worse than coming home in August to a previously uncleaned house plus 2 months of dust...)
2. Go to Trader Joe's to get cake mixes for my sister.
3. Go to Busch's to get Reese's peanut butter for my granddad (don't ask me why- it's the only thing he ever wants me to bring back. It *is* really good peanut butter though, and oddly only available at Busch's.)
4. Go to Zingerman's to get their crazy delicious graham crackers for our parents.
5. Do laundry (see 1. except with unwashed clothes)
6. Weed the garden. We have a lovely neighbor who waters our plants and flowers for us even when we're not traveling, but I would never ask her to go on her knees and pull out the weeds that have been thriving from neglect...)
7. Make sure I have enough reading material for the 21-hour long flight. I can't seem to read books on the plane, so it's usually the NYT magazines, Entertainment Weekly and whatever random magazines we have lying around the house.
8. Try to squeeze in one more run tomorrow. I'm still contemplating whether to do the Detroit half marathon in Oct. (for no other reason that the fact that you actually run across the bridge to Canada, and through the tunnel back, which is kinda exciting...), but if I am, I'm going to have to keep up the running in the heat and humidity of sunny Singapore. I'm getting stronger, but I'm not sure if I'm that strong...
9. Clear the fridge of anything that might turn bad, like milk or fruits (i.e. if there are, my Meals for One tomorrow are going to be made up of whatever's perishable in the fridge...)
10. Oh right, and of course, P-A-C-K, which I haven't done a whit of yet...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Factories, resources and love - Virtual worlds and social networking



An interesting talk by an artist who has been hacking the Civilization IV engine to create a game that makes statements about our contemporary economy. Here's a brief blurb about his talk:

Civilization IV - Age of Empire is a project by Eastwood Real Time Strategy Group (based in Serbia) that explores and simulates the flow and
control of information and capital. Based on the famous “Civilization III” game-engine, it displays the relationships between some of the main
determinants of our global culture - the military entertainment complex, immaterial labor, the pharmaceutical industry and the net economy - to
name just a few.

Civilization IV is a game that creates a socio-economical model, mapping the processes, flows, comparativeness and differentiation in the
market. This model simulates activities of some of the world’s top IT corporations.

The name of the game, Civilization IV is questioning the copyrighting of the word “Civilization” by Sid Meyers & Co. which should be common
for whole mankind. Using of Civilization III engine is an act of appropriation of world’s famous Real Time Strategy Game as universal cultural
heritage.

Eastwood uses the interactive computer strategy game Civilization IV as a medium to express their attitude towards contemporary social
cultural practice and to map and visualize how systems are functioning. Yet in contrast to the “normal” Civilization IV Eastwood chose IT
companies to emphasise the “military” structure in today’s economy.
Eastwood - Real Time Strategy Group is a group dedicated to the strategic research of relations between information technology and cultural
practice. Eastwood establishes platform for understanding of basic principles of information society and wider implications that new social and
class system is bringing. They create and use computer games as a tool
for new visions of art and cultural practice.

About the Speaker
Kristian Lukic is writer, computer games researcher, new media artist, curator. He is director of Napon Institute for flexible culture and
technologies, based in Novi Sad, Serbia. Working also as digital art and culture curator in Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina in
Novi Sad.

Busy in the ole SG

Thought that I might as well keep everyone abreast with how I have been keeping myself busy in Singapore. I am spending 8 weeks in Singapore as part of NSF's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) contingent to Singapore. This is a program that has traditionally been conducted with Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia and NZ - Singapore has only signed up to receive students from the US this year. So I am here with 14 other US grad students from all over, and we are keeping ourselves very busy :) To stay updated with the group's activities, check out the EAPSI flickr album that I've created.

For work, I am being hosted by Lonce Wyse from the Communications and New Media Dept. at the National University of Singapore. While here, I will be working with Giorgos Cheliotis on a cultural analytics project studying patterns of behavior on an open sharing and contribution community called ccMixter. Essentially, I am hoping to apply the theoretical framework of "Social Performances" - a theoretical framework that I developed for my field prelim exams - on this data set. Finalized details of this project will be updated in this blog on a later post. While here, I am also hoping to speak to Singapore bloggers and I hope to conduct followup data collection with them. So, I am keeping myself very busy, especially with keeping a 9am - 7pm at the CNM dept in NUS.

Additionally, I will also be involved with a couple of conferences that the readers of this blog may be interested in:

ISEA 2008
This is a large conference that seeks to bring together artists and the innovative use of technology in their work. Lonce Wyse, my host, is one of the main organizers of this conference. And essentially, because of that connection, I have been having great/interesting lunch conversations with artists from all over the world. Highlights of the conference include

iCommons Summit 2008
This is the large creative commons meeting and is happening in Sapporo, Japan. Giorgos Cheliotis, whom I am working with is the chair of the very first research track at this conference. I have a paper accepted for this conference, but it's proving to be REALLY expensive to get to. So I am undecided about attending.

Launch of Creative Commons, SG
Singapore's very own creative commons license will be launched at the end of July. Details of the event haven't really been released yet. But there are a couple of associated events that may interest folks:
1) There will be a panel on Copyright and the Creative Commons during this conference:

http://www.isea2008singapore.org/conference/conf_panels.html#samtani

2) Lawrence Lessig will also be in town to deliver a keynote address about the Commons:
http://www.isea2008singapore.org/conference/conf_keynotes.html#lawrence

So there, that was quite a lot of information ... just in case you think that jude yew is slacking off the summer away in the ole SG ;)

5 years ago today...

If not for you,
Babe, I couldn't find the door,
Couldn't even see the floor,
I'd be sad and blue,
If not for you.

If not for you,
Babe, I'd lay awake all night,
Wait for the mornin' light
To shine in through,
But it would not be new,
If not for you.

If not for you
My sky would fall,
Rain would gather too.
Without your love I'd be nowhere at all,
I'd be lost if not for you,
And you know it's true.

If not for you
My sky would fall,
Rain would gather too.
Without your love I'd be nowhere at all,
Oh! What would I do
If not for you.

If not for you,
Winter would have no spring,
Couldn't hear the robin sing,
I just wouldn't have a clue,
Anyway it wouldn't ring true,
If not for you. .
- "If Not For You", Bob Dylan

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Transatlanticism

So sometime in August, we'll be taking my fifteen-year old sister to our first concert together :) Death Cab for Cutie is coming to Singapore and the sweet child is beside herself with excitement! (apparently, when teenagers send you emails typed entirely in caps, that means they're really, really excited...) Jude and I saw them when they played here in Ann Arbor in 2005, but I thought it'll be fun to go with Sam again anyway- I mean, how often do I get a chance to go to a concert with her, and for how much longer before going *anywhere* with her older sister becomes so totally uncool...;)

Even though their new album, Narrow Stairs, has partially redeemed them from the disappointment that I thought was Plans, nothing, and I mean *nothing* has since, or ever, come close to the brilliance and beauty that was Transatlanticism- both the album, and its title track. We had blogged about it here after their concert and till today, after listening to almost everything the band has ever produced, the song remains our all-time favorite Death Cab for Cutie track, and quite possibly one of my favorite songs ever, period. The songwriting is absolutely inspired and the arrangement, pure sumptuous gorgeousness. Listening to it 'live' continues to be one of the highlights of my concert-going experience.

As I was scouring the web for the video for the track, I came across this one. I'm quite sure it's not officially produced or commissioned by the band, but whatever the case is, it is AWESOME! And I mean that. For real. With all seriousness. It's almost weep-worthy... For those of you who like Michel Gondry's visual imagery as much as we do, you'll love this even more- the stop-motion animation is very much reminiscent of his craft, and everything about it just works with the song. Everything. It's genius, really. Watch it, and excuse me while I go sit in the corner and miss my husband way far across the Atlantic...

A day in the life of...

A typical day for the past week or so:
8:00 - Up and about
8:10- Check email. Answer emails
8:25- Breakfast
8:35- Watch the news
[Maybe sneak in quick phone call with Jude]
9:00- Get ready to leave the house
9:15- Out of the house to catch the 9:30 bus
10:00- In the office
10:30- Teach
1:00- Lunch
2:00- Office hours or meetings
4:30- Leave the office
5:00- Get home with desperate need to just crash
5:30- Run/gym/yoga/veg-out in front of TV (depending on how the day went...)
7:00- Make a Meal for One
8:00- Dinner in front of the TV
8:30- Prepare for class the next day/ answer emails from students/ grading/ chatting with Jude online
12:00- Read/watch TV in bed
12:30- Go to sleep thinking of how things are going to be exactly the same the next day...

In fact, this has pretty much been everyday these last ten days or so, except for weekends. I'm assisting in a summer research methods course and because it meets everyday, the workload has been crazy intense. The day goes by in a blur and before I know it, I'm in bed just past midnight and in the morning, the whole cycle starts again...

Thankfully, on the food front, I think my Meals for One have been going really well- no cereal and cold milk yet- not that I haven't been tempted ;) But I've also come to the conclusion that making these semi-elaborate meals for one has become a way to distract myself from the fact that I'm alone at home. Typically, the time between five and eight in the evening is usually when we make dinner, watch some TV together, and just unwind before starting work again at night. Without Jude around, I occupy this "dead" time (because honestly, who *is* productive at 6.00 in the evening?) by pottering around the kitchen, painstakingly finely chopping up mint when bashing them would do, laboring over a time-consuming rice-pudding when I could have had graham crackers with cream cheese, or prepping a fancy salad instead of getting take-out. I figure, it's cheaper than therapy :)

1. Honey-mint glazed chicken, 2. Maple-cranberry rice pudding, 3. Porridge with ground pork and spinach stir-fry, 4. Mango Caprese salad, 5. Pan-fried halloumi, 6. Panzanella, 7. Bacon and swiss chard pasta, 8. Vichyssoise, 9. Toasted poppyseed bagel with cream cheese and pesto

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Goodbye lunch @ everyday cook

*sniff* Sadly, it would seem that my favorite place to have lunch in Ann Arbor might be closing at the end of the month :( Since they started serving lunch in April last year, everyday cook in Kerrytown has consistently served some of the most interesting and innovative food I've had anywhere- from Moroccan-spiced scallops on panzanella to duck confit risotto- and what's most important is their commitment to the freshest ingredients and supporting local farmers. A daily evolving menu means that there's something new everyday and I've never been disappointed by lunch there.

According to their blog, they're not able to sustain lunch @ everyday cook because of the lack of funds, and while there is as yet no concrete future plans- a membership system seems to be in the works- it appears that when Jude and I come back from Singapore in August, there might no longer be a place where we can go for that special lunch date, or just something unique and out of the ordinary in little Ann Arbor. In a bid to bask in the lovely glow of everyday cook while we still could, my friend Deborah and I had lunch there yesterday and it was as bittersweet a food experience as I've ever had- we shared the Shrimp & Pork Cakes with Savory Mango Herb Salad and the Pan Roasted Duck with Rice Noodle & Fresh Herb-Citrus Salad, and they were both exquisitely wonderful. By the time we were making our way through dessert- a most delightful Coconut Pecan Pie with Lime Whipped Cream, we were taking increasingly smaller bites, hoping to prolong the experience for as long as we could. That's how sad we were...

I genuinely like the concept, people and food at everyday cook, and really hope that the owners figure a way to keep it going. It would be a pity to let something so special just slip away. For those of you in town who either haven't yet had a taste of everyday cook or love it as much as I do, hurry down to Kerrytown next week- you might only have a week left :( *sniff*

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Intelligence is relative..."

Excuse me, but I think someone just invaded my sub-conscious, picked a handful of my favorite actors, a couple of my favorite actresses, two of my favorite writer/directors, threw them into a cauldron, and conjured up this nonsensically ridiculous magnificence. No *freaking* way... :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Going solo

I'm not sure about this whole cooking for one thing.

So Jude's on his way home to Singapore right now- probably somewhere in the middle of the Pacific en route to Japan. He has a research fellowship at the university that starts on Monday and since I'm teaching until the end of June, there was no choice but for him to go home first. It's a little odd having the house to myself, and making dinner tonight was especially strange. I literally found myself standing in front of the fridge, wondering what to cook. I came close to giving in to the urge to just have cereal- I almost never say 'no' to Honey-Nut Cheerios no matter the time of day- but in the end just threw various things together and made some fried rice. I make it a point to try to make dinner every night, not only because it saves us money, but the leftovers are an easy lunch the next day. Plus, I truly enjoy cooking for the two of us. But it just didn't feel the same tonight- I'm not sure whether it's because of the long day at school I had, the weird storm and crazy humid weather outside, or I was just plain missing my husband only after 8 hours (can someone say needy and co-dependent?...)

But I have resolved, that I shall look to the next 17 days as a challenge- to enjoy cooking for myself. To make nutritious, tasty and interesting (or at least try...) meals, just as if I were cooking for two. Just because I'm alone doesn't mean I shouldn't take care of what I put in my body or that I should no longer enjoy cooking. And to make sure I steer away from the temptation to have canned soup three days straight or to buy a huge cherry pie to eat over a week, I'm going to start taking pictures of my Meals for One, starting here. Who knows? if I embrace this whole cooking for one thing enough, it might just help a little (just a little) to ease my co-dependency issues over the next 17 days... ;)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Korg DS10!!!



The Korg DS10 software for the Nintendo DS handheld device will be released in London this Saturday. It's kind of surprising to me that of all the handheld devices out there (from palm tops, phones etc), it's the Nintendo DS that has been getting the most lurve from the developers of music making software. And I am curious as to why ... an online digital music that I follow describes it as such:

The embarrassment of riches that is music software for the Nintendo DS continues to grow.


Also, why are all these cool music devices and software being debuted in London these days? Not enough electronic music makes in the US? Not enough DS owners? Surely I think not :)

I have one nintendo DS already ... do you think Serene will let me get 3 more like the guy in the video? ;)

Monday, June 09, 2008

J.K. Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard: "“The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.”



(Better quality audio at this link here)

I have to admit that I am rather fond of commencement speeches. My favorite so far still is Salman Rushdie's speech to the 1996 graduating class of Bard College. Commencement speeches, although seemingly a rather hackneyed genre, requires a lot of skill in terms or writing, oration and imagination to truly inspire.

The video above highlights a rather inspiring speech from the creator of the Harry Potter series. She talks about the benefits of failure and in particular the failures that she's experienced personally. You can view the full text of her speech here Choice quotes from the speech are:

There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.
- J.K. Rowling

Birthday!

Well, no one has ever said we under-feed out guests for sure... Two days later, our counter-top does not look any different- piled high with lovely breads, hot-dog and burger buns, bags of chips, graham crackers and chocolate; and our fridge is still packed with dip, sausages, salad, sides, and leftover grilled short-ribs and chicken. Honestly, I was actually surprised we managed to make it through as much food as we did- I probably made enough to feed at least 30 people and everyone brought their own contributions to the party too which meant we probably ended up with enough food to sustain a small army battalion. But it was Jude's birthday and everyone was in a good mood, and so there was much eating to be had :) Testimony to the amount of food that was flying off the grill, Jude and I were so busy manning the grill that we barely took many pictures of the food itself (see here for photos- c'mon, admit it, 3 photos is modest by our food pornographic standards...)

Menu for the day:
- Kal bi (grilled Korean short ribs)
- Fajita chicken
- Rosemary and lemon shrimp skewers
- Sundried tomatoes chicken sausages
- Heirloom tomatoes and orzo salad
- Grilled Brun Uusto cheese with warm honey
- Mozzarella and tomato salad
- Warm artichoke dip
- Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)
- Potato salad
- Avocado salad
- A mind-boggling variety of sides
- Tons of bread
- Brownie tart
- Banana cream pie (never was any dessert so quickly obliterated...)
- S'mores (we experimented with a fancy version this time, with hand-cut marshmallows, sugared cinnamon graham crackers and 71% dark chocolate- they were fantastic!)

Plus the added distraction of the Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and Donkey Konga, we think good fun was had by all, hungers were heartily satiated- we're sorry if the party busted anyone's diet plans, lost childhoods were reclaimed by many, and one man's 36th birthday was duly celebrated :) Yay Jude!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

It's Kung Fu Panda!

Oh come on... how can anyone not want to see this movie? It's a kung-fu panda! With a sense of humour! Voiced by Jack Black! What's there not to love?? We're so watching it this weekend :)



For a loving review of the film, see here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Have you ever been in love?

I went in fully prepared not to like it, really. I never watched the series on its first run on HBO and while I enjoy catching episodes of it now and then on TBS, I always thought that making a full-length movie out of what was entertaining- sometimes in inspired ways- in short 30-minutes doses was just going to be a prolonged fashion show at best, and a disaster at worst. I know it made huge profits at the box-office over the weekend, but critical reviews have been lukewarm; in fact, the NYT gave it a scathing review (I believe the exact words were: "the movie that she and Mr. King have come up with is the pits, a vulgar, shrill, deeply shallow — and, at 2 hours and 22 turgid minutes, overlong..."

But despite myself, despite all preconceived notions of what I was walking into, despite the fact that there were all of 5 men in the movie theatre (my husband thankfully not being one of them), and despite the fact that there were so many moments in the movie that would have made me keel over and gag from sheer absurd cheesiness in any other movie, I enjoyed Sex And The City. Thoroughly.

I mean, no one's calling this Oscar material, and unless Fashion Week has a movie category of some sort, it isn't going to win any awards. But the movie doesn't set itself up that way in the first place. Sex And The City the movie is what it is- an opportunity to recapture something about the female psyche that the series managed to tap into- hope, some might call it; empowerment, perhaps; desire, possibly, and of course, that elusive, magical thing called love. There were moments throughout the film where there was genuine emotion- sadness even- and there were enough ardent worshippers in the theatre- my friends included- who made the experience feel more like a reunion with dearly-missed old friends than an extended ad for all that is glittering and glamourous about New York (because really, do we all have friends who will help us pack our apartment bearing 2 bottles of champagne and wearing Gucci?)

I'm not saying everyone should run out and catch the movie right now and I still won't recommend it to anyone with dominant testosterones coursing through their body, but I was honestly pleasantly surprised- cheese and all- and you just might be too.

Some people are settling down, some are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less. Than butterflies...
-Carrie Bradshaw, Sex And The City

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's done!

1. Half-way mark, 2. Warming up, 3. Coming up that nightmare of a hill, 4. With Molly, Tanya, Will and Baby Lily

I did it! Finished the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, and in my personal best pace- 5:34min/km. My run time ended up to be 1:10 hr though because there were so many people in front of me at the starting line that I actually started running before crossing the starting line and ended up running an extra kilometer or so (yes, there were that many people ahead of me. Thousands, in fact...) And let's not mention the fact that one thing I didn't account for during training was the fact that someone sitting on the Run committee decided that it would be a good idea to have a hill in the last leg of the race. A steep hill. Like why? What were you thinking? As if running for an hour continuously isn't enough of a challenge for me... I almost passed out after that hill, which I guess slowed me down a little too. But whatever the case may be, I'm just glad I completed and in fairly decent time too :) My feet are killing me right now though, and my toes- for some reason- have been mangled into a blistery mess, but with that is a perverse sense of self-satisfaction which makes the pain worth it.

I completed a 10K-run last week during a training run, but running today was really different. For one, running in a large group is a huge motivation- I tried not to let the people running by affect me but I suspect that that had a large part to play in me running my best time, just me subconsciously trying to keep up. Then there are the strangers cheering you on everywhere, meeting up with friends who were just there to soak up the invigorating atmosphere, those couple of guys playing music for us on their front porch as we ran by, and most importantly, your wonderful friends who were either cheering for you along the way (thank you Rick, Emilee and Ursus for coming!) or screaming your name as you approached the finishing line (Serena and Liz so rock!). And of course, there's Jude who woke up crazy early this morning to accompany me to the run, taking pictures along the way, and being my all-round awesome one-man cheering team :)

I think I'm going to keep up the running routine just because I know it's doing my body good and I don't want all that training to go to waste. Like my sister suggested, maybe a 10K run every one to two weeks just to challenge my body a little, but apart from that, I think I'll go back to 4-mile (6.5K) runs three times a week. Any more or longer and my toes might really just give up on me and fall off... ;)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Food splurge

I don't think we've ever spent so much on food in one day. Rick and Emilee were making a Costco run today and invited us to come along. Since we don't have a membership to the wholesale mega-store and we're having a party for Jude's birthday next week, we thought it would be a good idea to go and see what we can buy in bulk for the BBQ. After an hour or so of walking along aisles of giant boxes of cereal and gallon-sized cans of olive oil, we emerged with:
- 2-lbs of shrimp (for grilled rosemary-skewered shrimp)
- 3-lbs of beef short ribs (for kalbi)
- 3-lbs of sundried tomato and mozzarella sausages
- 1 large pack of baby portobellas (for grilled veggie kabobs)
- 5-lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We'll probably keep this for ourselves- they're a really versatile cut of meat so we have no worries going through them at all.
- 2 kegs of yummy Virgil root beer. Yes, you read that right: kegs. Of root beer. It was so hilarious we just couldn't resist :)
- 2 bottles of Naked mango juice
- 2-lbs of cheese-spinach raviolis (this will probably feed us for several meals...)
- a large box of stuffed grape leaves
- an entree-tray of Chicken Alfredo pasta for dinner tonight so I can carbo-load before the run in the morning

And then, when I went to get my race packet for tomorrow, I found in it a coupon for $5 off any $35 purchase from Whole Foods. Since we had to return some cans from there anyway, we allowed ourselves the indulgence of shopping at Whole Foods again for the second time this month. With much restraint, we still ended up with:
- 1-lb of white peaches
- a package of Brun-Uusto cheese, a baked cheese that we'll throw on the grill next week and serve with warm honey and rosemary or maybe a fruit preserve. There was a tasting of the cheese and it was served with warm orange blossom honey- soooooo gooooood...
- a jar of eggplant and tomato pasta sauce
- carton of orange juice
- half-lb of bacon (because everything just tastes better with bacon)
- carton of Odwalla Blueberry B Monster juice (extravagant I know, but we told ourselves that the coupon's paying for this one)
- 2 grapefruits
- a rosemary plant. The smell was too intoxicating to resist (there's still a lovely scent lingering on my fingers...) and I figured since I was going to use the stems of the rosemary to skewer the shrimp for the party, it's probably more worth our while to get an entire plant. We're not sure if we're going to transplant it into our little garden patch, but it might not survive the winter and I do want to have the plant last as long as possible. So now, I can have fresh rosemary whenever I want :) Sweet!