'Kotomine Kirei'. Boy, the amount of times Jon and I went around Cornwall muttering that underneath our breath, sounding like complete psychos. On the whole, the Fate premise sat well with us, despite any silly little holes in its theories, concepts, historical inaccuracies and the utter gay twatty characterisation of Gilgamesh (‘unngh, look at me in my skin-tight snake pants!’). We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Cornwall represented by the interpretation of King Arturia and Alexander the Great become buddy-buddies with a skinny-wobbly-thing called Waver Velvet (TEAM RIDER 4EVER). Of course, everyone in London goes to the Palace of Westminster for university where your professor is named Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. Let’s just say I liked the show enough to dedicate my Dungeons and Dragons character to Irisviel von Einzbern. Gosh, I’m such a geektard; it’s ridiculous.
P.S. Should I have watched Fate/Stay night first? Now? When? If ever?
The wild wild west show. The pilot was way over our heads without subtitles. Three seasons in and we are still watching with subtitles. What I found sublime about Deadwood, especially in Season 1, was how neatly most of the plot lines were summed up by the finale and how a protagonist character arc came full circle. Really well written. Not sure about some of the acting though in regards to intention or just plain silliness on the actor’s behalf.
The Great British Bakeoff
Do I have to explain myself here? It’s baking, it’s wholesome and it has Sims-like music. How quaintly British.
What would Japan do without its plentitudes of boy geniuses during times of crisis and despair? I don’t know; I’m only 3 episodes in.
Hooray for book reading! I love books and can’t read fast enough. But my repertoire needs to expand beyond Atwood, Baldwin, Chabon and Vonnegut.
The Call of the Wild (Jack London)
A reread that continues to make me sad because animal cruelty does that to me (see Black Beauty). It also makes me really cold; that’s the far North for you.
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
For the longest time, I stayed away from Ishiguro’s works because Keira Knightly starred in a film adaptation of one of his novels. Ironically the first one I decide to pick up takes place in the southwest of England and the breakdown of traditional English ways and the new through the eyes of an oldschool butler.
Invisible Cities (Italo Calvino)
Terrific read, if not too fast as I read all of them on the train to London. I love the ambiguity and vagueness of each city described as if the generality can be applied to any city as the reader wishes it to be so. For me, the time lapse in the middle was a bit jarring though as I found myself reading of ‘modern cities’.
Soul Music (Terry Pratchett)
Another first for me. I don’t know why I haven’t ventured into Pratchett’s literary world until now and I think I should have started on the one below (see Mort) prior to reading Soul Music. It took me about 50 pages to get into the plot and his style of writing but ultimately the ride turned enjoyable and amusing in that infamous Pratchett-absurd-and-farcical way. As if he really can’t be bothered. And sometimes, that’s okay with me.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (Kazuo Ishiguro)
At this point, I started reading the giant epic that is (see Romance of the Three Kingdoms) and needed to consume something small and light on the side. Short stories fit the bill quite nicely and nothing piques my literary interests more than stories about music and nighttime. Each one is unique in its scope, touching and nostalgic and enjoyable.
The Penelopiad (Margaret Atwood)
On the similar vein with Nocturnes, I chose the Penelopiad, a post-mortem narrative of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, which was an okay read but nothing more than that. I think I need a(nother) break from Atwood.
Mother Night (Kurt Vonnegut)
I’ve been going through Vonnegut’s works alphabetically (Slaughterhouse-Five being exempt as I already indulged in it). Compared to Galapagos, which I read during the spring, I definitely prefer the absurdity in the first in contrast to another WWII narrative, despite it being a satirical one of a ex-Nazi-American radio propagandist. I think that says it all.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Luo Guanzhong, Trans. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor)
I am so determined to complete this epic; don’t stop me now. It’s actually going quite smoothly. Just hundreds more names to recall and historical footnotes to plow through.
Mort (Terry Pratchett)
This was the one I should have read prior to Soul Music; oh well. Enjoying myself so far.
My intake of films has gone down considerably as each year passes while my to-watch list continues to grow. Oh well.
Behind the Candelabra [S. Soderbergh, 2013]
Despite it being full of glitz and sparkle and fantastic costumes, visual flamboyancy could not compete with the ever awkward and incredibly gay-pants dialogue being spewed from characters. That being said, Ian Somerhalder should always play a frozen plastic surgeon from now on until the end of time.
Divergent [N. Burger, 2014]
Crappy air flight movie consumption part 1! Are young adults seriously into Harry Potter meets Hunger Games AUs? Bland.
Thor: The Dark World [A. Taylor, 2013]
Part of my crappy air flight movie consumption part 1 but at least enjoyable instead of painfully stupid. Or I thought it was enjoyable in the cheesy-silly!Marvel sense as I was already up in the air for 5 hours and losing my head.
Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning [Yonetani, Y. 2012]
Jon and I miss Tiger & Bunny. But we didn’t want to see some fanservice film of the first few episodes of the series cut together with the last 30 minutes being slightly different. We might have as well rewatched all 25 epsiodes.
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising [Yonetani, Y. 2014]
Much better! Thoroughly enjoyable in classic Tiger & Bunny-ishness.
冰封俠: 重生之门 (The Iceman Cometh) [Lau, W.C., 2014]
Crappy air flight movie consumption part 2! In 2014, mainstream Chinese cinema is trying to ensnare old kung-fu/martial arts crowds with Donnie Yen. As a big name general from the Ming dynasty who time-travels to the modern day Hong Kong in ice capsules with two other historical figures who are foes-but-once-were-blood-brothers. The plot involves some phallic symbol of Shiva and a random moment of Chinese propaganda which is as absurd as the plot itself. Donnie Yen could not save this hot mess. The worst is that it’s the first of more to come. SOS!
愛．尋．迷 (Enthralled) [Tsao, C., 2014]
Ugh, just remembering this movie makes me nauseous. It’s so bad I am not even tagging it.
暗戀桃花源 (The Peach Blossom Land) [Lai, S., 1992]
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to watch this live on stage? It is best to view it in its film mode as a theatrical masterpiece anyhow as that is where it excels in its art. Tragedy and comedy share the same stage, alternating between until the two styles mesh together and the audience is wondering, is life a stage or is the stage life? There is a lot to be read into the metaphor of what is happening on the stage of both the Taiwanese and Chinese experience. Good stuff.
친절한 금자씨 (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) [Park, C.H., 2005]
I can’t believe I never watched this one. But at the same time, I’m not sure how I feel about this one versus Old Boy, which was viewed many years ago now… As revenge stories go, there is the continual tendency of emptiness at the end, as revenge does not and will not bring back what was once lost.
"What can be more American than the person who sees something they’ve never done before, dreams they can do it, goes after that dream."
Writer Jack Hitt tells the story of a small town production of Peter Pan, in which the flying apparatus smacks the actors into the furniture, and Captain Hook’s hook flies off his arm and hits an old woman in the stomach. By the end of the evening, firemen have arrived and all the normal boundaries between audience and actors have completely dissolved. (Act 1, Opening Night, 23 minutes)
Thanks maidofmatter for this excellent piece of radio journalism from 1997. The commentary is priceless (“the kids just suddenly lurch into the air and it’s suddenly clear that the people hired to operate these flying apparatuses, aren’t too sure how they actually work”). And the rising crescendo of Ravel’s Bolero is just the right piece of music to parallel the gradual ascent into not just a hot mess, but a fiasco.
I just need to get myself to a small-town high school production.
Presenting NO.SLEEP - Mix.06 for all you fine people. Thanks to Dancing Astronaut for the premiere. Full mix streaming on Soundcloud and new tracks added to our NO.SLEEP Collection playlist on Spotify.
1. You’ve got an hour to spend in the bookstore/library, where do you start?
A. Chat with the bookstore staff to find out what they recommend. B. An hour in the bookstore – in my dreams! C. Check out my favorite authors to see if there’s anything new. D. Bounce around from section to section browsing whatever looks good.
2. What do you look for when choosing a book?
A. A book by one of my favorite authors. B. I usually choose books that have been recommended to me by friends. C. The next book on my ‘to read’ list. D. Something a bit different/unusual.
3. You’re in your local bookstore and you see that an author signing is scheduled for the following day. What do you do?
A. If I happen to be passing at that time I’ll probably drop in to see what’s going on. B. It looks interesting, but the chances are I just won’t have the time to go. C. Put it on my calendar. I love to go to these things even if I’m not familiar with the author. D. Check to see if it’s one of my favorite authors – if so, I’ll definitely try to go; otherwise probably not.
4. Which of these quotes appeals to you most?
A. “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus. B. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle C. “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Henry David Thoreau. D. “Choose an author as you would a friend.” – Wentworth Dillon
5. You’ve heard about a book that looks like it maybe good, what do you do?
A. I’ll probably spend some time asking friends/visiting websites to find out what others think of it – because half the fun of reading a good book is finding it in the first place! B. I don’t have a lot of spare time so most of my information comes from a handful of reliable sources. If one of them says it’s good and it looks interesting I’ll probably buy/borrow it based on their advice. C. If it’s an author I’ve enjoyed in the past I’ll probably just buy/borrow it without anymore research as I know I like the author. D. I’ll check it out online and try to read an excerpt and some more reviews, as too often books don’t live up to the hype.
6. You’ve finished your last book, what do you do?
A. Call up a friend and see if they’ve got any books they can recommend/or can lend me. B. Look up the list of books that I’ve been wanting to read and order one. C. Reread my favorites until I find a new book to enjoy. D. Check around house, there’s sure to be something interesting that I haven’t read yet.
7. Your friend’s having a birthday party, and you’ve decided to give him/her a book; what do you get?
A. A book that’s part of a series that I enjoy. B. A book by a new author I’ve just discovered (and maybe I can borrow it later!) C. A current bestseller that I think will suit him/her. D. A book that’s a bit out of the ordinary, but I think he/she’ll enjoy.
The Exacting Reader
The expression ‘so many books, so little time!’ sums up your life. You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you’d like - so you’re very particular about the books you choose.
I just finished 2 days of transition with my first class ever. (I teach Year 3.)
On the whole, they’re fine. On the second day, we have achieved writing the date in full on one line in the top-right hand corner. Hoorah.
They have a misguided perception that I am not strict. Or mean. Or horrible.
I’ve spent a lot of my time getting the classroom ready and realising I need to make about 10 new files for everything (did you say I needed a reading log?) Thank goodness for teacher assistants.
The worst though is when you printed and labeled everything and one of the children show up and his surname is a completely different name. And another child has two surnames floating around. But no, she is the same person. Great.
There’s no single lens that can clarify what that match felt like or what it meant. Invoking Neymar doesn’t explain it, because Neymar doesn’t stop goals. Invoking Scolari’s tactical shortcomings or Brazil’s talent deficit or Germany’s program-building doesn’t explain it, because we knew about all of those things before the match, and no one, absolutely no one, saw this coming. (If anyone tells you that they saw this coming, don your hard hat and adopt emergency mansplaining-survival protocols at once.) It was everything it was. Eventually people will sift through it, and figure out what mattered most to them, and it will become a story. But for now, the only way to think about it that isn’t fatally distorting is to be a little overwhelmed by it. Anything else is thinking you hear a melody when someone hit all the keys on the piano simultaneously.
Because here’s what Germany did to Brazil over two hours in Belo Horizonte. They produced something so staggering that it still feels irreducible. They left the soccer world functionally speechless. They broke metaphor. They stunned hundreds of millions of people.
01. Det & Ari - Butt You 02. Session Victim - Glow In The Dark 03. Jets - Sin Love with You 04. Love Edits - I Want to Know What Love Is 05. Tirzah - I’m Not Dancing [Joe Goddard Remix] 06. Mo Kolours - Mini Culcha [Beautiful Swimmers Remix] 07. HNNY - Mys 08. Tone Of Arc - Goodbye Horses [Prins Thomas Diskomiks & Dub] 09. Tensnake ft. Fiora - 58 BPM 10. Orchestre Kiam - Memi
To say I didn’t expect the outcome of today’s semifinal to be like this…is an understatement. I was initially very worried for Brazil and that now also includes inexplicable sadness. I was initially very conflicted about the game and am now still conflicted.
This has and continues to be a roller-coaster of insanity. I hope I get my head back after tonight’s sleep.
What a great team does, of course, is clarify uncertainty, and given the descent into anarchy that was the first three weeks of the tournament, it would be nice to have one great team just as a convenience. The thing about…
"Whether you watch alone or in a group or at a stadium, you will know that what you are seeing is being seen by hundreds of millions of people on every corner of the globe, and that your joy, despair, or disbelief is being echoed in incomprehensibly many consciousnesses. Is there anything more ridiculous than this? There is nothing more ridiculous than this, but it’s an extraordinary feeling, too. When something incredible happens — Messi curls a ball around three defenders; Zidane head-butts Materazzi — it’s not just an exciting moment. It’s a bright line connecting you with the human race."
Honourable mentions because I am a huge cheat: Hayao Miyazaki stuff (Princess Mononoke!), The History Boys (total study movie and led me to Brief Encounter and Now, Voyager), Labyrinth (Bowie and young!Jennifer Connely!), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Young!Tim Roth and Gary Oldman!), Moulin Rouge (another total study movie—sing your heart out Ewan McGregor), Rouge (Anita and Leslie!) and more WKW.
1. Alain Delon, the impeccable Buddhist hit man in Paris. That is all.
2. Starring Bruce Willis as Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker in his best role ever! Late 90s sci-fi at its best thanks.
3. The only reason why this film makes this list is because it made me bawl like a baby and I listened to the soundtrack about a thousand times. Go Ennio Morricone.
4. I was originally going to go for The Grandmaster because it is such a visual delight and features Zhang Ziyi’s best role yet. But Chungking Express resonates more on a nostalgic (idealistic) level of what I remember Hong Kong to be. Stuffy apartments with fans, street vendors with dreadfully awesome food, n-e-o-n lights, humidity, the whole shebang.
5. 1989 Berlin Wall, the reunification of West and East Germany, Danny Brühl, that charming tiny thing. Arguably vapid but yeah, Danny Brühl.
6. Heartbreaking, poignant, melodramatic. It’s personal yet at the same time, incredibly deep and wide in scope, allowing the audience to have a glimpse of the paradoxical backdrop of modern China (tradition vs change). There was a beautiful memoire written by Chen Kaige about Leslie Cheung’s performance in this film, which is just brilliant. If I would rank this list, this needs to be number two.
7. It was a showdown between Rouge and Centre Stage but the latter won because Maggie Cheung’s performance just beat Anita’s (but still, Anita was excellent because the role fitted her to a tee!). Maggie as Ruan Ling-Yu is sublime and definitely one of her best. Kwan also outdoes himself in visuals and cinematography here (whoever his cinematographer was…)
8. Del Toro’s earlier works are some of my favourite—fantasy horror suspense. In addition to the wonderful paralellism that takes place in the film, I also appreciate how it mirrors the original Brothers Grimm tales’ stark brutality and gruesomeness. Didn’t appreciate giant toad though.
9. Yet again, what beautiful visuals! Also, Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru’s unintentionally awkward but mostly spontaneous and natural interaction was refreshing to me.
10. REEEEEDLINE. If I ever live to witness a global sporting event such as this…ho ho ho.
rules: in a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.
The Adventure of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon)
Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell)
Wives and Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Tom Stoppard)
His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
The Hundred Secret Senses (Amy Tan)
1. My first journey into semiotics and the only book I enjoyed by Eco, despite owning 7 of his works on my bookshelves. A terrifying, suspensful, erudite romp through historical fiction.
2. I’m rereading Secret Garden right now and I love it even more now than I did as a child. Is it because I now understand what it is like to live in the English countryside?
3. Only two books have made me cry: this is one of them.
4. To quote Jon: it encapsulates the American drive/determination that life can be better and will be better. I add that it is also idealistic but honest and charming. Also my favourite work by Michael Chabon thus far.
5. I read Cloud Atlas prior to the hot mess blockbuster’s release and its consequent chamber pot of putrid-smelling problemos and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The interweaving of narratives and characters across time was excellent. I refuse to let the movie ruin this.
6. Elizabeth Gaskell to me is something along the lines of Jane Austen to 19th century England-romanticists. While I adore the BBC version of North and South, the novel didn’t really resonate with me. Wives and Daughters, on the other hand, was excellent and I loved every bit of it.
7. Russian literature is fantastic if not long-winded! I have to add the short stories and plays of Anton Chekhov, particularly The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard.
8. Adding Waiting for Godot, in the sense that existentialism was first impounded into our 11th grade/Year 12 brains with lots of Thoreau and Mr Walt-green-blades-of-grass-Whitman and then polished it off with a nice sheen of absurdist plays. (Sidenote: I rewatched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead about 5-6 times. Everyone knows why…huehue.)
9. When I first came across HDM, I was smitten with the universe and wanted a daemon as well. If I did have a daemon, it’d probably be a guinea pig because I am a soft, dumpy thing.
10. The other tearjerker.
Notable non-fiction mention: The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China by Eric Enno Tamm.