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Monday, March 31, 2008

Tune of the week...

...well, of the day, at least.

Thinking of cherry blossoms in full bloom...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Of deals, phones and candidacy

Our new toys
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
We just couldn't resist. How do you? They may be refurbished but they look and work just dandy if you ask me. And for an outrageously ridiculous deal. In the immortal words of Vito Corleone, it truly was an offer we couldn't refuse... And thanks to the techie whiz that my husband is, we're particularly proud of this. Shelling out an extra $100 a month for an AT&T account was just something we weren't prepared to do, which is why we waited for a deal before we got the phones in the first place- *duh*...

It truly is a beautiful product, and more than that, an incredibly powerful one. Jude loves the map option that almost doubles-up as a GPS machine, while I'm personally taken with the seamless interface and the fact that it's completely integrated with my laptop. We're both just really happy with the phones and the deal that we got them for. And as any self-respecting owner of a new toy would do, I spent the whole of last night figuring out how to 1) install customized ringtones on the phone; and 2) not have to pay a cent for it. Thanks to Audiko and iToner, I was successful on both counts, and so am hopefully the only person in the world (for now) with this 42-sec Explosions in the Sky ringtone.

On another somewhat more celebratory note, Jude will be defending his prelims in two hours, and in four, he will have candidacy! He's worked so hard for this exam for so long and I'm really proud of him :) (The fact that I got a migraine from reading one of his first drafts because it was so theoretically dense aside...) I officially achieved candidacy last Fall but we wanted to wait till we were both done before really celebrating. So I guess you could say that the iPhones are a kind of reward to ourselves. Dinner at Cafe Zola tonight will just top it all off :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Explosions in the Sky 'live' @ Reckless Records

Riffing off Serene's last post on "Friday Night Lights", I'll admit to being somewhat moved by that movie as well ;) I have long wanted to watch this film given its recommendation by many friends and reviews. The movie was beautifully filmed and provided a glimpse, for me, into smalltown America's obsession with the town's high school football team and its coaches. But more than anything, I think that Explosions in the Sky's contribution to the film's soundtrack does add an emotional depth to the film. It certainly doesn't go as far as being a "third character" in Peter Berg's (the director) mise en scene of (fictional?) Odessa, Texas. However, the echo-ey guitar pickings, contrasted with the heights of action on the football field convey the sense that what is unfolding before the audience's eyes is a moment in time that these high school football players will not soon forget. I could go on with my take on Explosions in the Sky's contribution to the film's soundtrack, but perhaps I should let the music itself do the talking. Check out the video below of the band playing 'live' at Reckless Records in Chicago. The set-list for this performance is:

1. Yasmin the Light
2. The Long Spring
3. Greet Death

Explosions in the Sky 'live' at Reckless Records

Be perfect

I've never cried during a sports movie. I don't even like them.

Until Friday Night Lights.

I swear I was watching the last 15 minutes in a blur of tears. And that Explosions in the Sky soundtrack gets me every time.

Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect.
-Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

silly chicky easter doodle, originally uploaded by Linzie Hunter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring? What Spring?

As of right now, there's got to be at least 8 to 10 inches of snow outside our house. 8 to 10 inches!! On March freaking 21st! Spring was supposed to have started yesterday! It's Easter weekend! And we get a severe weather advisory today?

We took these photos at around 5 in the evening and it looks even worse outside now. Jude was supposed to go for a meeting downtown, took 25 minutes to drive less than a mile away and had to turn back because the roads were just horrific.

While our friends are hiking in California or admiring the cherry blossoms in D.C., our springtime fun this weekend might be sledding...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Data entry 2007, 121bpm

An ex-student of mine sent this along sometime in Feb. She's a DJ who goes by the moniker Miso Flamingo. And this mix rounds up her favorite 2007 tracks. I think that Miso Flamingo has a fine ear for what she describes as "deep tech house". Check out her tracklist:

1. A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray
2. Sekouba Bambino - Decourage (Charles Full On Vocal Mix)
3. Chateau Flight - Baroque
4. Dennis Ferrer feat. Malena Perez - I Can't Go Under
5. Lephtee - So Far Back (Phonique remix)
6. Phonique feat Dixon - Cafe Monte Carlo
7. Tokyo Black Star - Still Sequence (Innervisions version)
8. Fish Go Deep - ESL
9. Espresso - Ping Pong
10. Jamie Lloyd - What We Have [ a Zwicker Remix]
11. Ben Westbeech - Hang Around (Wahoo Main Mix)
12. Alex Smoke - Never Want To See You Again (ada mix)
13. Atjazz - For Real (version remix)

Bonus Track for fun:
14. Alex Smoke - Don't See The Point (Henrik Schwarz Dub)

So I hope you enjoy Data Entry 2007 and maybe you might want to catch Miso Flamingo at her next gig. See the schedule below for CAMP's latest DJ schedule.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Story of our lives...

[Copyright Jorge Cham]

I love PhD Comics. Few things in pop culture have been able to so accurately capture the excruciating experiences of the very narrow demographic of sadomasochists that Jude and I have the (mis)fortune of belonging to. No one gets the pain of having a basement office with no access to natural light, or the neurotic principle that's been diabolically ingrained into us that we are nothing without our data, and nobody but a former grad student can truly understand that the allure of an academic talk is often really only as strong as the free food it provides. Admittedly- and I say this knowing full well how obnoxious it's going to come out- it's also a kind of cruel humor that only a small group of people grasp and I suppose that can be somewhat alienating.

But for now, for us, it's an avenue to make fun of ourselves, and maybe also a way of not taking this whole PhD thing too seriously. How often do you get to see a mirror of yourself, look at it, and laugh? Like today's comic- literally, the story of my life. Almost to a T. It's scary... From a laughable childhood dream (at ten, I believed I would make a great writer. Or a florist), to a financially doomed college major (English, and with a thesis on French poetry no less- how's that for economically devastating); all of 3 years before I figured out my dissertation topic (totally worth it!), and of course, the hundred-million dollar question from everyone except my neighbour's pet dog, "When are you going to graduate?" The only thing in the comic I'm thankful not to exemplify is having a nasty adviser. I love my adviser and he has been nothing but most kind and supportive. Thank god for him or Serene Koh would be just another grad school stereotype...

So there, PhD Comics- it's free, it's funny, and it's way cheaper than a shrink.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

** Update: So apparently, it technically *isn't* St. Patrick's Day today. Because Easter comes extremely early this year, yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week, which apparently takes precedence over all other saint's days. While the Catholic Church in Wales and England omitted St. Patrick's Day as a feast day altogether because it clashes with Holy Week, in Ireland it was observed on Saturday instead. See BBC article here.

Well, many students here started their green alcohol binge last Thursday night (and are still drinking as we speak...), so whether or not St. Patrick's Day was celebrated over the weekend or today really probably doesn't matter to them...

A fabulous start to the day! I remember watching this classic Muppets sketch a long time ago and having no clue what Animal, the Swedish Chef, and Beaker were singing about. And as a ten-year-old, I was probably enjoying this too much then to wonder what the bunch of sparkly green leaves were too... ;)

In the words of Cory Doctorow in his Boing Boing post today, I nearly wept... :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ken Leeee....

As Idol fever begins (even though Jude and I hardly follow it at all), this is for those of you out there who have even the slightest negative thing to say about any of the contestants in the American version... You want to make sure you're sitting down for this. Trust me :)

Yon sorra is so shoooing...

As seen in Mr. Brown's blog.

A person's a person, no matter how small...

I didn't have any inclination to watch Horton Hears a Who!, especially after finding out that Jim Carrey's the voice behind sweet, dear Horton. The man can be a fine, fine actor- see Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine, but in an animated film- and a Dr. Seuss one at that (anyone remember The Grinch?)- his unrestrained, campy, hammy antics are sure to drown out the wonderful nobility that is the dear Seussian elephant.

But after seeing this clip, I might just change my mind. Honestly, I never thought I'd *ever* hear a version of this song that I'd enjoy. For some reason, I really dislike it. C'mon, "It's time to bring this ship into the shore/And throw away the oars, forever... And if I have to crawl upon the floor/ Come crashing through your door..." The metaphors are *so* bad- even by '80s standards- that the only thing the song's good for is a parody. You just can't take it seriously... Which is why I love how it's being used in the movie. Love it! I've been watching the clip over and over and I'm getting a face-cramp from all the smiling and laughing! And that emo, edgy Jo-Jo is the one who sings that last resounding cheesy line which then saves all of Who-ville makes it all the more delightfully tongue-in-cheek brilliant :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Be an Achiever!!!

I am really bummed that I missed the 2008 Lebowski Fest in Chicago. However, while trying not to fret too much, I came across this new documentary, The Achievers chronicling the obsession that Lebowski fans (a.k.a. achievers) have with the movie. According to the blurb about the movie:

"To understand the movie The Achievers, one must ask.... what is a Lebowski Fest? The most fun you will have with a stranger in a bowling alley, Lebowski Fest is a bowling event celebrating all things relating to the Coen Brothers 1998 film, "The Big Lebowski". It can be likened to a Star Trek convention in a very loose sense. The event includes unlimited bowling, costume, trivia, farthest traveled, and bowling contests, prizes, and what-have-you."

I want to watch this documentary badly. I am not sure why. It's like being part of this strange community somehow. It's one of those things that I want to do while being here in the U.S., like go to the Burning Man Festival, taking a coast-to-coast road-trip with cross-country diner tour thrown in for good measure, etc. etc.
Lebowskifest cured my cancer!
-Big Lebowski fan

Monday, March 10, 2008

Soup galore

1. Albondigas soup, 2. Roasted sweet potato soup, 3. Thai noodle soup, 4. Cabbage soup for dinner

Sometimes- just sometimes- when I'm struck by the mood to think of my food as having personalities, I often think of soup as a good friend. Because nothing makes you feel better when you're sick like soup, that sticks by you through all seasons- to warm you up in winter or cool you down in summer; soup is that old friend you're so at ease with- just a simple broth and some vegetables is enough to comfort, or a new friend you take time to get to know, pleasurably simmering over long hours and developing a flavor for.

And for some reason, it's not hard to think of that one soup that you associate with a special memory- cabbage soup reminds Jude of his grandma, Chinese herbal soup reminds me of my mom telling me every winter to keep myself warm; roasted sweet potato soup is golden Fall, and Teochew fish porridge soup is home.

What soup warms the cockles of your heart?

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Finally, after four seasons for Project Runway, the contestant who truly deserved to win won! Jude and I were rooting for both Christian and Jillian when the finale started but once we saw Christian's collection come down the runway, we knew he had to win. Everything was stunning, like "take your breath away, never in the four seasons, it made Posh Spice smile" stunning. And we still can't believe he's only 21. I was trying to remember what I had accomplished by the time I was 21, and then I decided, nevermind...

Until today probably, I was staunchly in Camp Jillian. I love how neurotically adorable she is, how interesting she keeps her designs- edgy but cute, bold but wearable (except for maybe that Twizzlers dress, although even pulling that off was ingenious...). But today, Christian's clothes were art. Throughout the season, with the exception of that one prom dress disaster, almost everything Christian has made has been dramatic, unique and phenomenal looking- from his first tartan-inspired outfit to that gorgeously layered couture gown; even the leather and lace thing he made for the wrestling diva was- in his words, fierce, fabulous and flawless!! I suppose it helps that he sews like Speedy Gonzales... His cockiness really annoyed me initially but gradually, it actually became kind of endearing. And I really felt for him today as he stood there waiting to hear the judge's final decision- there was none of the usual confidence and self-assuredness, and you could sense the palpable trepidation- the poor thing could barely contain his tears... In that instance, it really struck me that he *is* only 21- a kid, so freaking talented, just waiting for the rest of his life to open before him. When they announced him as the winner and he practically collapsed into a puddle of emotion from sheer happiness, that became one of my favorite TV moments this year :)
This is getting ferosh. If I was a diva, my name would be Ferosh!
-Christian Siriano

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"He no nuts, he's crazy!"

The Indiana Jones franchise will always have a special place in my heart. They came out during a time in my childhood/teenhood when going to the movies was a real treat and the whole experience of watching a film was always dazzling and exciting. Particularly Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom- it was one of the first movies I vividly remember my dad bringing us to watch, and I developed my very first movie crush on Short Round, a.k.a. Ke Huy Quan :)

So is it any wonder that just hearing that familiar theme music again is awashing me in a massive wave of happy nostalgia? Thank you, John Williams :) I just broke out into a silly grin when I saw the trailer for the new Indy movie, and it stems less from wanting to see the movie than the memories it evoked. I really feel little inclination to watch it- I think Harrison Ford needs to just age gracefully and accept that his days as a swashbuckling adventurer action-hero are over. Why join the ranks of Sylvester Stallone and Steven Segal huffing and puffing through another Rambo XIII, Under Siege XVI, or whatever?... Looking at him swishing away like he was twenty years younger, I'm afraid he might just have a coronary aneurysm any moment. Please take care, Mr. Ford. I want to always remember you as the dashing, charming, acerbic Indy of my childhood- I really like you and respect you, but I'm not sure I want to watch a movie where you pretend you're Nicolas Cage...

Monday, March 03, 2008

City of the Big Shoulders

1. Hard Rock Hotel, the Elvis floor, 2. Menu @ one sixtyblue, 3. Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 4. Reunion!, 5. View of Chicago from Evanston, 6. The Threadless retail store, 7. Billy Goat Tavern, 8. Line outside the Art Institute of Chicago, 9. Entrance to the Seminary Co-Op

Every year we tell ourselves we need to go somewhere warmer than Ann Arbor for winter break, and every year, we end up going somewhere as cold, if not colder- New York, Boston, Chicago. We should be going to Cancun, Aruba, the Bahamas!... But no, always somewhere where we have to lug out winter boots and coats with us. Not that we ever not have fun of course, but it's just that much harder to enjoy the sights and sounds of a city when you can't feel your fingers...

But as always, Chicago was a blast! We do love the place :) Every time we visit, we find one more thing about it that makes us fall in love more- the people, the buzz, the architecture, the diversity, the food, the history- just how very rich and vibrant it is without being completely overwhelming and claustrophobic.

Highlights of our trip:
1. Note to Hard Rock Hotel Chicago: I get the whole rock-and-roll aesthetic you're aiming for in your rooms, but your monochromatic color scheme is just not inviting and having Robert Plant stare at me as I get ready in the morning is weird. Also, I've got two words for you: more lights.

2. Chicago Restaurant Week rocks! We had a most lovely meal at one sixtyblue- the food was delicious- interesting without being pretentious, and the service was thoughtful, not ingratiating. It's been a while since Jude and I indulged in a decadently long, slow meal without thinking about work so we both appreciated the whole wine-and-dine experience very much.

3. Meeting up with my friend, Diane after 15 years! Now husbands in tow, no less... :) We had a wonderful time catching up and filling each other in on 15 years worth of not being on the same continent. We've both matured since that teary goodbye at the airport those many years ago of course, but I think seeing each other again brought out the giggly schoolgirls in us that we thankfully never fully outgrow :)

4. Our friend, Eytan was most kind to take us around Evanston and the Northwestern campus. Jude and I have seen most of downtown Chicago, so it was nice to explore something different. Evanston reminds me a little of Ann Arbor, although maybe a little less organic-foods-only and soy-latte drinking, but the same students-everywhere with interesting coffeeshops vibe.

5. Speaking of college campuses, we discovered our bookstore mecca- the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore at the University of Chicago. Touted as one of the best academic bookstores in the country, it did not disappoint. Thank goodness we got there with only two hours left to closing or someone might have had to physically remove us from the premises. We walked in, saw the awesome labyrinth of shelves after shelves of glorious books and said to ourselves, "Ok, maybe this might not have been such a good idea... What's our credit limit again?" Whittling down the dozen or more books we had picked out to a manageable (and affordable) few was an excruciating process of existential proportions...

6. Having a double cheeseburger at the Billy Goat Tavern. Made famous by the classic "Cheezeborger! Cheezeborger!" SNL skit, this legendary hole-in-the-wall serves a straightforward cheeseburger, Coke- not Pepsi, and chips- no fries. There is absolutely nothing fancy at all about this place, Jude and I were easily the youngest people in there that night, and the cheeseburgers, while very good, weren't the best I've had- or will have- in my lifetime. But there was something strangely comforting about a place like that- unpretentious, homegrown and very real, especially for something smack in the middle of glitzy touristy Chicago. Biting into that simple cheeseburger conjured up the memory of my first hamburger those many, many years ago- it was an almost visceral, elemental experience. The Billy Goat is that kind of a place :)

7. Popping by the Threadless retail store in Lincoln Park. It's surprisingly small actually and not a huge collection of tees. But just the set-up was interesting, and the fact that they showcase each t-shirt using a swanky computer monitor. I was particularly happy with the one I bought- it's hot off the press so if you're an eighties/John Cusack fan, you must get it!

[click to compare with original]

8. Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago. We never tire of this grand dame- there's always some interesting exhibition or visiting collection that's being featured and even if there isn't, the permanent collection is always worth that repeated viewing. Luckily for us, they were hosting a special Edward Hopper exhibition and that itself was worth the trip. It's always both humbling and inspiring to be in the presence of great art, and it was hard in that two hours to not be caught up in the rapture of all that is stunning about Hopper's quiet vision. A bonus was catching a lecture by photographer-artist, Ed Ruscha. I hadn't heard of him until then, but it turned out to be a real joy to hear him speak- he was funny, irreverent, and sparklingly intelligent. Apart from wanting to buy his prints, Jude has now put him on his list of "People I'd Love to Have Dinner With." :)

New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become Urban Renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington wink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable past the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its golden triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
-Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968)