December 29, 2008
I’m just back from a lovely Christmas break in Hong Kong at my Dad’s, where much bonding was had and much French was spoken (le sigh). As I am absolutely knackered, I thought printing here tiny poems that I love would be appropriate. I’ve been making R. learn about English-language literature, as these topics somehow tend not to come up in engineering classes, and I though these would be appropriate for the amount of time at his disposal.
First, my favourite. “Fog” by Carl Sandburg. I have early memories of this poem, and used to draw little pictures of a sea of kitties, all engaged in conveying the fog to its proper place.
|THE fog comes|
|on little cat feet.|
|It sits looking|
|over harbor and city|
|on silent haunches||5|
|and then moves on.|
Then, evoking a similar but entirely disassociated mood, “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams. (I love the failed WASP-iness of his name.)
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
And that is that. It is late, I have successfully beaten my jet lag. I watched The Holiday while trying to say up. It was, as predicted, mediocre, and I was kind of annoyed that Kate Winslet and Jack Black are considered to be in similar leagues, looks-wise. Regardless, watching it frees up a Netflix spot.
I leave you with the song I’m listening to before bed.
December 9, 2008
Apparently this is the blog where I post good songs that help me through the day. Today I’ve mainly been listening to Nina Simone et al., but I decided to make a little detour into Sonic Youth:
I feel like later it’s going to be a Fleetwood Mac kind of day… it’s dark now, and I’m overtired and dreamy, the way I like to be when I listen to them. Some days, they’re the remedy for most ills.
Long, long, painfully long day at work today. It’s hard when I have to work so late (I got home just half an hour ago) because I then become so desperate for a life of my own that I end up staying up even later. It’s a horrible habit, but I’m not sure what to do about it. Clearly, late-night blogging isn’t the answer, but I felt the urge to stop by and check in.
A few things kept me sane today. Firstly, stuck in my head all day was this song:
Which then turned into this as the day wore on, the workload grew more ridiculously impossible, and my coworkers and I started having hysterical manic laughing fits all over the office:
(I love David Byrne’s grandpa shoes and chicken neck in this video. What a stud.)
(As a further side note… this is one of the songs I remember most clearly from my childhood. Obvi the “fa fa-fa fa fa fa” part is fun, but still my knowledge of it as a small child is equal parts vaguely creepy and a testament to my parents having awesome taste in music.)
I also managed, on my subway ride to work and during the FIFTEEN WHOLE MINUTES I grabbed to scarf down a sandwich from Pret a Manger, to finish the book I was reading, Better by Atul Gawande. Among his many, many many other distinctions, Dr. Gawande was almost the surgeon who removed my thyroid. In the end, I opted for his partner, the wonderful Dr. Chip Moore, who proved to be an artist with his scalpel, but Gawande’s name stuck with me, and so I felt compelled to pick up his book when I saw it in the bookstore. I’m also a sucker for books about medicine– my secret childhood dream for aaaaaaages was to be a neurosurgeon. Reaading about decision-making, medical ethics and the path towards medical advances is simply fascinating, particularly in the wake of reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. The two books touch on similar subjects, though one is a biography and the other is a reflection, but I quite enjoyed seeing the questions pulled into the greater dimension of their application to daily goings-on in first world life. The contrast was unexpected, but worked perfectly.
Anyway, those’re all the vague thoughts for the night. It is late, and I must get to sleep. I have big plans for curling up in my bed and starting in on Going After Cacciato. After my foray onto writings about the world of medicine, now I find myself gong into war fiction. I wonder if my reading choices speak of some deep underlying mental process I’m undergoing. The other option considered was Open Letters, political essays. A pretty far cry from my ordinary trashy scifi, hopeless Anglophilia, and love for mysteries. Interesting.
And a superficial note? my hands are so dry and full of papercuts that i feel like a manual laborer. Sigh.
Favourite word (or historical group) today: Merovingian. Swirls around the bottom of mouth delightfuly. Ok, yawning. Bed bed!
December 5, 2008
I accidentally bit the inside of my lip while eating a piece of dried mango (yum!) earlier. I accidentally kept on re-biting it throughout the course of the day, and now I am possessed of a huge swollen bee-stung lower lip– but only on one side. The pain! The fact that it vaguely looks like I have herpes. Sigh.
I have shin splints from wearing high heels last night. Boo.
I just finished reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder. It was so inspiring and deeply fascinating. I need to go read a bunch of stuff about disease and wealth inequality now.
This woman makes me very happy.
December 4, 2008
Just back from an evening with a friend. Bad bad bad BAD Korean food up near Columbia– I had to complain and have my dish taken away, because the smell of it was making me queasy. I never make a fuss in restaurants, but this was really disgusting. Replaced with dolsot bibimbap. Rice + vegetable yumminess + an egg = great happiness. The evening was further redeemed by red bean ice cream and good conversation in the lounge of her dorm, to the strains of someone apparently giving a private piano concerto. Three hours of background music. It gave our maunderings on about life, the Meaning Of It All, and the necessity of winning the lottery because we hate being so relatively poor the feeling of participating in some indie movie, probably French due to the length and earnestness of the conversation. The effect was odd, but lovely.
People-watching was good today. This morning, a woman on the subways with a strangely small face and hands, clutching a green backpack with “KATTY!” scrawled across it in flourescent pink above the doodle of a a cat face. She sat quietly while on the bench waiting for our train to come, but the instant the subway doors closed, she started rapping, narrating the stories of all the passengers as they sat on the train. I tragically couldn’t hear all of mine, but there was something about “sitting there all proper” as I read. She kept on rapping as she walked out the door three stops later
Next came a sweet old man with a stutter and a facial tic selling pictures at a craft fair I went to with a friend during a lunch break. I bought a print; he confessed I was his first sale all day. Such a dear man.
There were other great encounters too. I’m just too tired to recall them. Correct spelling can be an issue. Bedtime for Bonzo. Ooh! Just heard drunk people in the street. Fun times.
Ah. Yes. And the word I like best today is bombastic. In its honour, I leave you this video:
December 3, 2008
Joel Sternfeld‘s photography:
Joel Sternfeld. Exhausted Renegade Elephant, Woodland, Washington, June 1979
(from American Prospects)
I was experiencing a major dose of nostalgia, for lack of a better word, for small-town America. Jeff Sternfeld’s photos come the closest to conveying the unusual beauty that expat American children mythologise to such a great extent. More on this some other time.
Sophie Blackall‘s illustration:
I desperately need to score an invitation to this tea party. Not sure if this is a very dangerous situation in the making, or if peace of some sort is to be had, but the combination of dubious snail and bizarro blue creature in checked pants and bowler hat is my kind of event. Maybe he’s menacingly sprinkling salt in his direction. The possibilities….
(The rest of her illustrations rock as well. This one just particularly struck me.)
Bookcase stairs = COVET.
(View is from the top of the stairs down. Click on the link for other angles.)
The fact that they function as the “secret staircase” to a loft in a Victorian apartment in London? Explosion of want-lust. You can see more pictures if you click on the link.
Really cool concept, though the worrywart in me sees a little too much possibility for things crashing down in all directions, with books flying everywhere. Probably not meant for someone as clumsy as me. Sigh.
These make the craft/typography geek in me so so so very happy. A perfect marriage!
I was looking for a piggy bank of some sort, and found this. Love visual puns!
And finally, a wonderful poster:
I am obsessed with the cuteness of this poster to the point of having spent the afternoon daydreaming about the kitchen I would have to have to be able to put this in it. Yes. I am going to move apartments just so that I can put up a poster in the kitchen. But… it’s a poster about tea! Tea has wonderful, godly properties! What’s not to like?
Ok, that’s it for the day. Must actually accomplish something.
December 2, 2008
There is always something impossibly romantic about place names. I love thinking of the evolution of a place, from its existence as a mere geographical feature into something fathomed, something known and possessed, bearing a name and a mythology of its very own. I love imagining how these place names came about. The city I grew up in grew from obscure Paleolithic origins into the Roman “Augusta Taurinorum”, until finally settling on Torino, translated literally as “Little Bull”. The bull prances all over the city in symbol, but the mystery remains as to how this place could be so strongly associated with the animal as to be named after it. Same thing with New York, the city in which I currently reside. New Amsterdam might have been a fitting title– Amsterdam was, after all, a world capital at the time the village was named. Comparing York to modern-day New York is a jarring experience, as one never really stops to think of the connection that exists between the cities. Better to switch place names with New London.
This is all a typically long-winded introduction to this article in the Spiegel about the Atlas of True Names, or rather an etymological atlas of the world. A team of cartographers traced the etymological roots of various place names and compiled the result in something that looks like perfectly normal maps, until you get close enough to read the place names. The end product is like a map out of Tolkien, or of some other imagined world, replete with stories that have been hidden for so long because of linguistic laziness. Do yourselves a favour and click on the slide-show.
December 2, 2008
Victoria Beckham, object of one of my more intense girlcrushes, has proven herself to be amazing in her very own peculiar batshit-crazy way yet again. Lend an eye to the video that she’s made for her new dress collection.
Alas, I am not able to embed it, but the link ought to take you to the grand, surreal world of her artistic vision. A few notes:
-Firstly, I adore all the dresses. I’m rather scared to think what they might look like on one who is on the more traditionally curvy side (ie. not possessed of boy-hips, and having natural breasts instead of alien-looking silicone balloons), but if properly executed, they could possibly be pretty universally flattering. Of course, they’ll invariably only go up to a size 6. And cost hundreds of pounds. Sigh.
-Secondly, I found it hard to concentrate on the dresses because I was so charmed by the setting! I want to move in there right now. Nothing better than a big old house, complete with glorious jewel-toned wall colours. Subtract a couple of paintings from the walls and I’d be ready to move right in.
-Most of all, though, how much fun must it have been to shoot this video? Playful surrealist hide and seek in gorgeous clothes in a beautiful setting. Bliss!
Unrelated: language lesson of the day: Proper use of the word “comprise”.
December 2, 2008
Musical accompaniment for this post is provided courtesy of the Shangri-Las:
I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days. On careful (some might say anal-retentive) consideration, I think I might like this song even more than Leader of the Pack. Tough call. Shall have to listen to them both some more and ponder further. I love the Shangri-Las. Such badasses.
Anyway, this is my second dip back into the pool of blogging. Goal for this year of my being twenty four is to try to do this on at least a weekly basis, hopefully building up to more often. I like the idea of having a record of sorts. I’m so terrible at keeping paper journals. The concept is wonderful, and proves extremely useful when i have time to kill at home, but somehow never happens. We’ll see if i can make this work. I’ll readily sacrifice the impossibility of doodling all over this medium if it means I somehow write more regularly. Plus, I get to embed videos. What perks! I can hardly fathom them!
I had a whole long set of paragraphs planned maundering on about the Meaning of Life and other such things. That shall have to be for another night when I haven’t accidentally stayed up far too late, redecorating or reading. End summary is just that blogging is happening again, and hopefully it will become a regular thing
For a final laugh, check out this video of Hilary Duff performing Leader of the Pack in the movie American Dreams. What a joke. it’s hilarious how everything is tweaked ever-so-slightly to conform to the ideals of today. Hair, outfits, reedy little voice. Sigh.