Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

It was a rollicking good time watching and laughing through VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs last night. Some of it was just so ridiculously silly that it actually became entertaining :) Do these people take their rock personae that seriously? And our favorite had to be The Darkness and their video for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love". In the words of MTV, the band struck enough classic and cliché heavy metal poses to make Mötley Crüe look like Oasis. I'm convinced I've heard the song on the radio before, but the video is a whole other crazy creature altogether. A spot-on parody of the glam-rock '70s, it's like a lovechild between Queen, David Bowie, and Van Halen. It is magnificent in its complete and utter ludicrousness :)

And we haven't stopped watching it since last night...



[when asked if they're a parody rock band]
"We're not a 'parody' of anything. Don't use that word...We're the fresh new sound of rock music."
- Justin Hawkins, frontman, The Darkness

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"You will never go hungry..."

...something Emilee & Rick failed to mention when they invited us to spend Christmas with Emilee's family in Wisconsin. Over the course of a week, there was *never* a moment when I was genuinely hungry. Peckish, maybe; greedy, for sure; but a real, honest-to-goodness level of starvation? Nope.

Monday
Lunch: Double mushroom-swiss burger at Culver's off the Oshtemo exit. Best Culver's I've tasted, worst Michigan town in terms of ploughing (or lack thereof).
Dinner: Homemade chicken pot-pie and biscuits (plus lots of holiday snacks strewn everywhere...)

Tuesday
Lunch: Mushroom-pepperoni pizza from Rocky Rococo and one-and-a-half pound of wings from Sentry, a Wisconsin-based grocery store.
Dinner: Sweet sour pork with fried rice. Did I mention the holiday snacks? Cranberry pretzels, white chocolate peppermint bark, red and green M&Ms?

Wednesday (this is when the holiday eating madness begins...)
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with bacon. One-and-a-half pounds of bacon, to be exact. Plus buttered toast. Of course.
Lunch: Fresh cheese curds and more wings from Sentry. If you haven't realized by now, Sentry has some fairly profound chicken wings.
Dinner: Homemade lasagne (yummmm...), garlic Texas Toast, Caesar salad.
Desserts (yes, plural): Homemade chocolate cake with mocha frosting and Grandma Wolfe's ridiculously addictive date bars.

Thursday
Breakfast: Skier's french toast and sausage fried in bacon grease. Because nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like complete abandon in the cholesterol-counting department.
Lunch: Really, lunch? I had room for lunch? I didn't but I had Brie and crackers anyway...
Dinner: Surf & turf Christmas dinner- steak, crab claws, scalloped potatoes (Rick using an Elise recipe is always foolproof and delicious!), and corn. And desserts from last night. Plus lots of Asti Spumante.

Friday
Breakfast: Oatmeal, bacon, eggs, toast, grapefruit. It was like being at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, a.k.a., foodie heaven.
Lunch/Dinner: Friday fish fry at 4.30pm at the 5'O Clock Club, so it was something in between lunch and dinner. It was our first taste of the Wisconsin tradition and completely transformed my conception of seafood in the Midwest. Lake Perch- gooooood...
Supper: Watching the extended Fellowship of the Rings makes a person hungry, and makes five people even hungrier (don't question my logic!). It was 9.30, we had just finished watching the first disc and pizza was in order. Even if it meant placing the last order for the night and Beth having to drive to Rocky Rococo's to pick it up herself.

Saturday
Breakfast: English muffins. Yes, I know, how modest in comparison. But we had all set our alarms to wake up early to start The Two Towers and slack was not to be cut for breakfast. Although the smell of eggs and bacon sometime in the middle of Disc Two was magnificently distracting...
Lunch: More Culver's. Fried chicken. And ButterBurgers. Plus fries, cheese curds and coleslaw.
Dinner: Rader anniversary dinner. Rick & I made dinner of grilled pork tenderloin and mac & cheese. 3-quarts of mac and cheese to be precise. That's 12-cups, folks. Made with close to six cups of milk and four pounds of cheese. Black Diamond Cheddar rocks. More Asti Spumante.
Dessert: Homemade banana cream pie. Because Emilee's dad hadn't stopped asking for it. It was definitely pie worth waiting for.

Sunday
Breakfast: Homemade pancakes and more bacon than should be allowed on a breakfast table. And really good Trader Joe's maple syrup.
Lunch: Jude and I *had* to make a pit stop at La Pasadita in Chicago on our drive back to Ann Arbor. *Had* to. Yes, it is a physiological need, people. We could barely contain our excitement as we exited I-94E into the city. You'd understand if you've tasted their awesomest tacos...

Top that with a copious amount of Mario Karting (this is one area where mediocrity is okay with me...), the extended LOTR trilogy, lots of dog giddiness (we are now intimately acquainted with the routines and habits of the canine species), and tons of laughter and good cheer, and you have our wonderful Christmas holiday with the Raders. With the exception of going home to Singapore, I really can't think of a better way we could have celebrated Christmas :)

[click for photos]

1. Jude and dogs action shot, 2. Grandma Rader loving her white elephant present, 3. Serene wondering what's inside, 4. Sisters hiding, 5. Opening presents, 6. Table setting, 7. Present corner, 8. The Raders' beautiful home, 9. Christmas Eve dinner

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy, happy holidays!

As I type this, I'm watching whirling snow come down like powdered sugar over Emilee's parents' place in Wisconsin. They generously invited us to spend Christmas with them and we're glad we get to be with family-- even if it's our friends'-- rather than no family this holiday. And we're even more happy that we made it here before the insane snow storm Wisconsin is going to get today- 6 to 10 inches apparently. Driving through west Michigan was harrowing enough yesterday with stretches of unploughed freeway and being able to go only at 20/mph...

But we're indoors now in the Raders' beautiful home and are looking forward to a week of doing absolutely nothing except watching the four dogs drive each other giddy with playing, eating lots of good home-cooked food, playing cards, Taboo, and Scrabble with Emilee's grandmas, and watching the beautifully insane snow come down while keeping warm and dry.

Jude and I want to also wish all our blog-readers an equally wonderful Christmas and New Year! Here's our greeting card this year- it was Jude's awesome idea to create a video greeting on his website. Happy holidays to all!

[click for card]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Guess what came through my fatwallet feed tonight?

Ever the consummate (and addicted) online shopper, I noticed the above ad that came through the fatwallet feeds tonight. All I can say is WOW! And notice the recommendations that come with this product ...

Movie quote meme update

1. Meet me... in Montauk. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- guessed by Jude)
Every time we see this movie, I notice something new to love. It's just beautiful and wonderful and lovely. Jim Carrey at his heartbreaking best.

2. Shania hates mayo all right, and she can't eat chicken salad, that's no joke. We gave it to her once, she threw up in the limo - the lady hates chicken salad. (I Heart Huckabees- guessed by Stella)
One of the first blogposts I wrote in 2004 was about I Heart Huckabees and like I said to Stella, it's a polarizing film. You either love it, or hate it. Until today, I have a hard time justifying to my adviser why I think it was one of the best movies of 2004.

3. The shit hath hitith the fan... ith. (10 Things I Hate About You- guessed by Alfie)
C'mon, you have to admit that that's funny! I remember laughing sooo hard when I first heard it :) And in a movie that succeeds at being both a great teen movie and an inspired take on Shakespeare.

4. Um, this is Zeus. I'm not home right now, but you can leave a message and I'll get back to you. Please start speaking at the tone. (Mighty Aphrodite- guessed by no one)
An underrated Woody Allen film if you ask me. I love the nudge-nudge-wink-wink theatricality of it all, and the Greek Chorus totally sealed it for me :)

5. Sushi? Sushi? You think this is about sushi? (Monsters Inc- guessed by no one)
I'm actually surprised no one got this one. Until Wall-E, this was my favorite Pixar film. Plus it was one of the last animated movie I watched with Sam I think, so it has a very special place in my heart.

6. Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians. (High Fidelity- guessed by Rick)
I still think the book's better but the movie was saved by John Cusack and Jack Black. Which means completely watchable over and over and over again. The quote I really wanted to put was "Autobiographical." from my favorite part of the book and movie. But I thought that would have been too obvious ;)

7. I have to help Wayne with his bogo pogo. (Strictly Ballroom- guessed by Matt)
I thought no one would guess this one but it was Matt Bietz to the rescue :) I'm almost sure I was the only person in my neighborhood who rented the movie from the video store, which also means I'm totally responsible for wearing the VHS tape down. If you loved Moulin Rouge, you need to watch this to see how it all started. [Comment from Matt: "I love it too - and I realized what it was when I couldn't say "bogo pogo" without the accent. :)" ]

8. They say taupe is very soothing. (Ocean's 11- guessed by Alfie)
While I love many movies, there are few I can almost completely recite by heart- You've Got Mail, The Matrix, Love Actually, Jerry Maguire, and.. Ocean's 11.

9. We're gonna bring this party up to a nice respectable level. Don't worry, we're not gonna hurt anyone. We're not even gonna touch 'em. We're just gonna make 'em cry a little, just by lookin' at 'em. (Some Kind of Wonderful- guessed by Jenn)
Only our favorite 80s movie ever! I wanted to marry Eric Stolz and have him give me a pair of diamond earrings too. And another movie I've only ever seen on VHS or as a re-run on TV.

10. You can feel it. This desk set wants to fly! (Dead Poets Society- guessed by Olivier)
*sniff* The ending still gets me every time...

11. A Mo-Jo, it's a very high-tech machine that transmits pages over the telephone! It only takes eighteen minutes a page! (Almost Famous- guessed by Elaine)
This is actually not my favorite quote from the movie, but it was one I thought was the lest of a giveaway. The greatest lines are spoken by Frances McDormand: "This is not some apron-wearing mother you're talking to. I know about your Valhalla of Decadence, and I shouldn't have let him go. He is not ready for your world of compromised values, and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking clearly to you?... If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession-- which is law, something you may not value but I do-- you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone. And it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?... I didn't ask for this role, but I'll play it. Now go do your best. "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." Goethe said that. It's not too late for you to be a person of substance, Russell. Get my son home safely. You know, I'm glad we spoke."

12. Cows! I hate cows worse than coppers! (O Brother Where Art Thou?- guessed by Alfie)
I remember watching this at Jude's place one night when he was having a stomach flu. It was not the best conditions under which to see the movie, but I think it helped to make him feel better. And for that, I thank the Coen brothers :)

13. Michael Jackson didn't come over to my house to use the bathroom. He was about to. But his sister did. (The Goonies- guessed by no one)
A definite favorite from primary school :) It was either this or a quote from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

14. I used to eat there. Really good noodles. (The Matrix- guessed by Jenn)
I chose the most un-Matrix line of the whole movie just to make things a little interesting. Jenn had the best comment for this: " It's one of my favorite quotes because it's totally the essence of Keanu Reeves."

15. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. (Clueless- guessed by Alfie)
Jude doesn't understand why I will watch this over and over again, no matter how many times it re-runs on Comedy Central or VH1. It's more than 10 years old but seems ageless to me. I love it for the same reason I love #3- witty teen movie meets literary classic. And the clever screenplay predates movies like Juno and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. [Other favorite quote from Clueless: "Mel: What the hell is that? Cher: A dress. Mel: Says who? Cher: Calvin Klein."]

Thanks to everyone who played- this was awesome!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Movie quotes meme

Via srah

1. Pick 15 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search or other search functions

1. Meet me... in Montauk. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- guessed by Jude)
2. Shania hates mayo all right, and she can't eat chicken salad, that's no joke. We gave it to her once, she threw up in the limo - the lady hates chicken salad. (I Heart Huckabees- guessed by Stella)
3. The shit hath hitith the fan... ith. (10 Things I Hate About You- guessed by Alfie)
4. Um, this is Zeus. I'm not home right now, but you can leave a message and I'll get back to you. Please start speaking at the tone.
5. Sushi? Sushi? You think this is about sushi?
6. Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians. (High Fidelity- guessed by Rick)
7. I have to help Wayne with his bogo pogo. (Strictly Ballroom- guessed by Matt)
8. They say taupe is very soothing. (Ocean's 11- guessed by Alfie)
9. We're gonna bring this party up to a nice respectable level. Don't worry, we're not gonna hurt anyone. We're not even gonna touch 'em. We're just gonna make 'em cry a little, just by lookin' at 'em. (Some Kind of Wonderful- guessed by Jenn)
10. You can feel it. This desk set wants to fly! (Dead Poets Society- guessed by Olivier)
11. A Mo-Jo, it's a very high-tech machine that transmits pages over the telephone! It only takes eighteen minutes a page! (Almost Famous- guessed by Elaine)
12. Cows! I hate cows worse than coppers! (O Brother Where Art Thou?- guessed by Alfie)
13. Michael Jackson didn't come over to my house to use the bathroom. He was about to. But his sister did.
14. I used to eat there. Really good noodles. (The Matrix- guessed by Jenn)
15. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. (Clueless- guessed by Alfie)

[I double-posted this on my Facebook so some are going to get struck-out because people got them correct there.]

What has Jude been up to lately?

So some of you, dear blog readers, might be wondering - what the hell is Jude up to these days?

Well, in case you were wondering, I can tell you that he's been plenty busy, thank you :)

And just what has he been busy with?

Over Summer 2008, he had the great fortune of being able to go back to Singapore on an NSF fellowship to work at the Communications and New Media Dept. in NUS. While there, he worked with Giorgos Cheliotis and the great folks from the Participatory Media Lab. A project that kept him busy most of his time in Singapore was a study of participation patterns found in ccMixter, an online community focused on the remixing of Creative Commons licensed music.

Well, that was Summer. In November, Jude was back in Singapore for 2 weddings. But in between the weddings, he managed to squeeze in more work at the Participatory Media Lab. And what you see below is the culmination of all those months of effort :)

Yesterday, we finally submitted the paper you see here for the 2009 Communities and Technologies conference at Penn State University in June. There will be a couple more papers coming out of this same project, so watch out for them :)

*UPDATE*
A librarian friend from the antipodes advised me to take the paper down since it hasn't been published yet. Please feel free to email me if you would like to view a copy of the paper.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let there be light

So during today's dark, rainy, pre-winter solstice evening, instead of cursing the darkness, Jude and I lit candles.* Well, made candles, actually, and with the Cooks and Cooneys. I have to say, it was one of the most soul-satisfying experiences I've had; there was something about hand-making one's own source of light (although we're not sure if we'd use our candles anytime soon- right now, they're too precious...) that moved me very deeply. And the significance of us doing this during the last few longest nights of the year was not lost on me.

Regular beeswax candles are expensive (I calculated, Jude and I now have the equivalent of about $100 worth of beeswax candles) but Dan managed to score a great deal on raw beeswax at a local farm and so we had 16 pounds of beeswax to work with today. I now understand why these candles are so coveted- for one, the smell of melting beeeswax is awesome- like a cross between honey and sunshine :) And they're supposed to burn brighter and longer too.

Making candles must be one of the most painstaking tasks in the world- the dipping of each individual layer of wax, dripping, waiting, dipping some more. Until what starts off looking like Pocky slowly evolves into this sturdy light-bearing vessel, full of promise and brilliance. Surrounded by good friends, good food, the sounds of laughing children doing all the wonderful things that children do, it was one of the most inspiring and rewarding ways anyone could choose to spend a gray and dreary winter afternoon :)

* From Adlai Stevenson's eulogy of Eleanor Roosevelt: "She would rather light candles than curse the darkness and her glow has warmed the world."

[Photos here.]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas presents 2008

[click for album]

Two dozen eggs, four cans of coconut milk, six (or more) cups of sugar, a dozen half-pint mason jars, colored and raw twine, and twigs from our backyard. Christmas present 2008, all done! I quadrupled the quantity I made last week and tweaked the recipe a little by adding some caramelized sugar at the end. Jude tasted a little as the vat was cooling down and pronounced, "Yup, that's kaya." :)
Not only are homemade gifts less expensive, they also capture the spirit of holiday giving in a way that purchased gifts simply can't. And if you consider the ubiquitous traffic and holiday crowds, a leisurely morning spent baking breadsticks or whipping up a batch of homemade marshmallows seems positively Zen-like by comparison.
-L.A. Times, "50 ways to make your holiday gifts homemade"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A dog's life

1. Frisbee fun, 2. My favorite photo of Ursus, 3. Caught it!, 4. Tugging at the same frisbee

Rick and Emilee are in Paris and we're dog-sitting Ursus for them. Jenn's got Kumo so we thought it would be a good idea to have the brothers hang out for a bit at the dog park in case they missed each other.

Our camera-- thanks to a new lens-- captured some great moments :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Writing spaces

So last night, we stumbled upon the BBC's cool slideshow featuring Eamonn McCabe's photographs of writers' rooms. It's a fascinating insight into the working environments of writers like Beryl Bainbridge and Roald Dahl. Some are austere (like V.S. Naipal), others are more genteel (like Margaret Drabble), and then there are those whose rooms are exactly how you would imagine them to be- Roald Dahl's, for one... Can't you just picture him writing while sinking into that comfy old armchair, surrounded by quirky odds and ends? :) My favorites, though, are Seamus Heaney's and Martin Amis'. For no other reason than the flood of natural light that comes in through their skylight.

While we aren't writers in the purest sense of the word, as graduate students, writing has become a huge part of our lives. And until that slideshow, I hadn't really thought about my writing space very much. It's just a place where I work and because it's also in our bedroom, it's not like it has some independent identity of its own like a real study room. But I should probably take more pride in my writing corner- it is after all a space of labor and thought, a space of creation, even if the product is a mundane dissertation.

Jude's writing space is in the smaller of our two rooms and while he does have a larger table, he shares the table with our printer, and the room with our guest futon and three huge shelves of all our books combined.

One day, we will have a large room devoted just to our books and our writing. It will have built-in shelves, generous working tables facing each other, a corner-to-corner-floor-to-ceiling white board wall, and preferably a skylight to let in as much natural light as possible. Yes, one day... :)

What does your writing space look like?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Homemade kaya

It's that time of the year again when I start planning Christmas gifts for our friends. For the past few years, we've done cranberry hootycreeks and hot chocolate in jars, and chocolate truffles. This year, for some reason, I thought maybe we'd do something a little more reminiscent of home- kaya. It's an egg custard jam popular in Southeast Asia made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Perfect on crisp buttered toast and a cup of black coffee, places that sell kaya are now a dime and dozen all over Singapore. But here, the only kind of kaya comes in a can and as any self-respecting Singaporean knows, those aren't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as real kaya.

And so this afternoon, I embarked on my first kaya-making attempt. I figured I'll make a small batch and try out the recipe first before making a whole lot to give away. Kaya is humble food and the ingredients are as simple as they come- sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and pandan (screwpine) leaves for that extra flavor. It would have been ideal to have freshly squeezed coconut milk of course, but this is Michigan- who are we kidding?...

Making kaya is a labor of love. It has to cook slowly over low heat and requires constant stirring so that the eggs don't curdle or scramble. Which also means it was an exercise in patience for me, standing over the double-boiler for 45 minutes doing nothing else but stirring. And listening to Jude play around with his iTunes playlist.

You can see here that the kaya is thickening up, reward for all the care you're taking. It transforms from what was a runny, eggy yellow mixture into a lovely pale golden curd.

After 45 minutes, the kaya is ready. A faintly sweet pandan scent hits you as you decant the kaya out of the pot. The texture is almost voluptuous, fuller than I what I'm used to, but in a good way- thick, luscious, but not heavy, like a lovechild between custard and pudding. And it has beautiful flavor. You can taste each and every ingredient so distinctly because it's just so fresh. The only thing though is that I would have liked it to be a deeper color. I might add some caramelized sugar to it when I make my next batch.

To complete the experience, Jude and I spread some kaya over buttered toast for tea. I'm happy to say, it was like I was home :)

[Recipe modified from here.]

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shadow Art Fair

We love the Shadow Art Fair. Started in July 2006 as a prequel-- and tongue-in-cheek competitor-- to Ann Arbor's over-hyped, overcrowded, and overpriced art fairs, the SAF in Ypsilanti-- the town next to us (some call it Ann Arbor's poorer cousin)-- is now pulling its own weight and drawing a loyal group of followers to the Corner Brewery twice a year. An eclectic mix of local and regional artists and designers doing their own wonderfully whimsical thing, I love the SAF for its unpretentious indie vibe and the awesome coziness of just a bunch of people happily cramped into a pub rather than the sprawling monstrosity that is the Ann Arbor art fair which not only disrupts the whole town every summer, but doesn't even really sell much art (no one can convince me that sunglasses or toaster ovens constitute art).

And so today, Jude, Jenn, and I braved the gnarly snow and spent the afternoon at the SAF. It was like being at an etsy sale- handknit winter hats and mittens, $1 haikus, quilted shopping bags, handpainted "art cakes", handprinted tees- I thoroughly enjoyed everything :) It helped that I got to sip some delicious hand-roasted coffee (and made a couple of new acquaintances in the process while waiting for my latte- some guy told me how much he loves my name and how he might just name his future daughter "Serene" now, plus I got a crash course in how to make those lovely milk foam patterns...), fell in love with what has to be the world's cleverest and most adorable "foodie" greeting cards, and bought some hand-appliquéd tea towels from Handmade Detroit for Christmas presents. But my favorite purchase today has to be Jude's choice of this illustrated print from Kill Taupe:

It's just so sweet and delightfully strange (especially in the context of the rest of his work) that I can't wait to frame it up so that we can put it up on our wall with the rest of the prints we've been collecting :)

Some photos of our haul here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Florida


In Florida
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
I'm in strip mall hell. Surrounded by a Harley Davidson store, a Walgreens, McDonald's (with a giant lit-up pack of fries up front), Popeye's, two gas stations, the world's largest Checkers restaurant (apparently), and a place called Bargain World which according to some tourist website, sells discounted Floridian apparel (what Floridian apparel is, I don't know...) I'm also just off the freeway and two exits away from Universal Studios.

Yikes...

I'm in Orlando for a conference for two days and looking at my surroundings, it looks like I'm going to be staying in the resort the whole time. Jude helpfully informed me that there's actually a mall two miles away, but honestly, trying to get there would probably be too much effort. Not that staying on-site would be any better. The resort I'm in is kind of weird- lots of fountains and pools you can't swim in, I had to get driven in a buggy to get from the lobby to my room, it actually looks like some kind of motel-- the kind you drive up to-- and in the middle of nowhere, there's suddenly an ice-cream parlor. Plus, I also had the WORST possible dinner ever at the hotel restaurant- some sad excuse for grilled salmon and saffron risotto. No good ever comes out of dry fish and gummy, gloppy rice.

The only saving grace is that the room is more than adequate and they have good coffee. So it looks like the next two days will be spent session-hopping, sitting in my room, sipping coffee, and doing work. Or if the weather gets warmer, sitting by the pool, sipping coffee, and doing work. Let's hope it's the latter.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christian the Lion

How could I have not known about this? Apparently, it was quite the phenomenon earlier this year, with 17 million people having watched the clip on YouTube already. But until this morning, I had no idea. I was catching up on last week's Screens Issue of the NYT Magazine when I came upon a section where they got an eclectic bunch of bloggers, celebrities and media personalities to write about their favorite screen moments of the past year. Starlee Kine, my new radio idol next to Ira Glass, called hers "the most solid reason for why the Internet should exist..."
Christian the Lion was a little lion cub that two young guys saw on sale at Harrods in London in 1969, back when department stores sold these kinds of things. They took him back to their flat, where he got into their sock drawers and played with balls of string. They befriended a vicar who let them use a local churchyard as a playground for the cub, and at the beginning of the video (which someone pulled out of an old British documentary and posted on YouTube last summer) there’s Super 8 footage of them frolicking about. Then text appears on the screen explaining that once Christian got too big, the boys had to take him to Africa to be with his own kind.

A year later they decided to go visit him, even though they were warned that Christian had become a full-grown lion with a pride of his own and wouldn’t remember them and would perhaps attack them if they went. They went anyway, these two tall, floppy-haired guys whom I admit I am seriously crushed out on, and the next thing you see is this grainy footage of them standing in the African sand, calling Christian’s name silently, because there’s no sound. Oh, and I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is playing in the background, and that as you see Christian appear and are still unsure what’s going to happen (my friend Heather was convinced she was going to witness the two boys’ deaths; she couldn’t understand why else I was freaking out so much when I made her watch it) you hear Whitney sing, “I wish you joy and happiness, but above all this, I wish you lo-uh-ove,” and then Christian is running toward the boys, leaping onto his hind legs (“Watch out!” Heather screamed at this part) and the music is all, “And I will alll-ways love you,” and you see that Christian not only remembers them but that he loves them, dearly, desperately, he is hugging them with his enormous lion paws? And one of the guys, who looks a lot like a young Roger Daltrey, actually, has this huge smile on his face and you can see him choke back a sob. It’s just the most solid reason I’ve seen yet for why the Internet should exist. By the way, the video isn’t nearly as effective without the Whitney Houston song. I’ve tried watching it both ways and, really, you need the song in order to experience the full-blown effect.
- Starlee Kine, NYT Magazine, November 23, 2008



I challenge you to not choke up at the display of pure, unadulterated love and happiness... It's wonderful.