As I was saying in my earlier post, this book was published in 1995 and it shows. The feeling that something big is going to happen in the local music, especially rock, scene comes across in the essays collected within, as well as the contradictory feeling that the heyday of Singapore music was long over - disappointment? I can’t really put my finger on it but I feel that the 90’s were like this massive black hole for the music scene here. Well, at least for mainstream music? There must’ve been plenty of indie/rock/metal people and hobbyists around, gigging and struggling to survive though… I didn’t know what was going on (and still don’t know).
In 1995… I was in 8 years old and in Primary 2. Definitely not listening to “local” rock - which I guess back then was associated with “unsavoury” elements of society. HURHUR. I think I read something in the book about how the clubs were shut (drugs?) and musicians had no place to play, and so the music scene kind of died. See, blacked out period of Singapore’s music/social history right there, if laymen like me don’t remember/know about such things.
Anyway, it seems that in recent years, “indie” has become mainstream (wth) and Singapore’s musicians are more respected and accepted. Renaissance City, huh huh? Though it’s pretty hard to survive on performing - same everywhere, I guess.
This was a good read though - I’m going to Google some of the names and see if I can discover more good music. (Recently Inch Chua wrote an article about how Singaporeans don’t support local music. PLEASE. I’ll support musicians who produce music I like, regardless of nationality. I just don’t like her type of music, simple and straightforward as that. Just because you’re Singaporean, doesn’t mean I have to like or support your music.)
Ooh, I just came across this article on the book. And blog entries on S-Rock here!
It had me at Duran Duran. And BOWIE! It’s a memoir about (1) GROWING UP as a (2) MUSIC (3) NERD in the (4) EIGHTIES. That’s already freaking four things I love reading about already. Jackpot! Sheffield is hilarious in a self-deprecating manner and can somehow write about how great the women in his life are without seeming like a sap about it. My only question is, where can I get his first book, “Love Is a Mix Tape”? Look at that title, it sounds awesome already!
Yes, I blame this entirely on Tommy Joe Ratliff. No, I won’t be getting a bass anytime soon, but the finger exercises and introductory bits (parts of the guitar, fixing your gear, sounds of different styles of music, etc) are really helpful so I’ve been using the book these few days.
The story of Fender guitars, with LOTS of photos and illustrations and a complete listing of models at the end. As my sis would say, “coolios!” Yeah, I don’t know how that word came about either.
"… the book is a comprehensive guide to finding your way to rock stardom that covers all of the basic information as well as answers embarrassing questions that you don’t feel comfortable asking the grizzled, goateed rock veterans working at Guitar Center.
From finding an instrument to forming a band and writing songs, The Girls’ Guide To Rocking is teeming with immensely useful information that’s not always intuitive…”
This is a really cute book, and pretty inspiring. Well, if I were a teenage girl in suburban America, I would totally use Hopper’s advice and start my own band rightaway. Even if the band didn’t go anywhere, it’s a valuable experience. Life is for living, you know? Unfortunately this book came about 10 years too late for me, and Singapore is just…
I feel a rant about Singapore society and education and mindsets coming up - next book!
The tone in this novel is pretty detached, but I feel that it works even better this way since the protagonist seems self-centred but at the same time, lost. Okay I’m only 50 pages in, so I should be reserving judgment…
This passage stood out, though, because job-hunting $&*#!*ing sucks.
Whatever they might all say, she had really been trying to get a job. She knew money was an illusion, but she also knew that she needed food in her hardly illusory belly. … She had been applying for a variety of things, writing letters.
Dear Sir, I would like a job. Actually that’s not true. Without wanting to trouble you with my ambivalence, a job is what I need. Sheer bloody debt has forced me back. I am quite free of many of the more fashionable varieties of hypocrisy, though I suffer from many unfashionable varieties of my own. I have many strengths, most of which I seem for the moment to have forgotten. However, I am a goal-oriented person and so on, und so weiter… Yours ever, Rosa Lane.
Dear Madam, I am a person of inconstant aims and mild destitution. I find this combination of qualities excludes me from many jobs. But working together, I’m sure we can exploit my talents successfully. I still have a cream suit, a relic from a former life. I am unexceptional in every way, and eager to serve. You can find me in a borrowed room, in west London. Yours faithfully, Rosa Lane.
More recently, she had written to landlords and restauranteurs.
Dear Sir/Madam, I would like to be considered for the post of barmaid. I have no experience at all, but I have an abiding interest in bars. I like a nice glass of beer, from time to time. Some of my most memorable moments have occurred in bars, some of my most desperate humiliations and fleeting patches of pure claritas. So far she had been dismissed by every barman she met. Kindly, politely, but dismissed all the same.
I wish I could write cover letters like that. NOT - I would have to mooch off my parents for another year if I really did send them.
The 1997 book’s a bit dated, but the discussions on the history and evolution of videogames as well as arcades are still quite relevant. AND SO FUNNY, I was laughing out loud on the train. Didn’t really see if people were looking at me funny because I was too absorbed in the book.
Personal computers simplified the requisite record keeping and took RPGs out of the closet by adding graphics, so that the player could look like a videogame jock rather than a hopeless Dungeon and Dragons geek.
Chuckling right now.
Also - there was a rather lengthy section on magazines which I would’ve appreciated a LOT if I’d read the book more closely before embarking on my videogame magazines paper. I did come across the book before writing, I just thought there was nothing helpful inside when I skimmed through it.
Still got an A anyway. *self-satisfied smirk*
It starts with that quote from Borges:
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
How could I not love it?
This novel by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack has so many elements I love - bibliophilia, the glitz of L.A. (thank Adam for that), witty bookstore people, single (okay, technically separated) woman NOT living in a messy one-room apartment, name-dropping everywhere, and hilarious out-of-this-world characters.
I love reading about characters who can afford to enjoy life, you know? Not having to work at a shitty job every day, lamenting the drudgery of life until that love of her life complete with mysterious past (like mad-wife-in-the-attic mysterious) shows up saving her from all that. SINGLE WOMAN IN THE DUMPS CLICHE. JUST, NO.
Then again, it’s not like Dora the
explorer protagonist is so much different, though she has money from her trust fund and can afford to live in a luxurious serviced apartment in L.A. with a great sea view. -_- Ultimately, all a girl wants is just to find love.
"All we need in this world is some love." Adam Lambert! LOL!
So… Dora loves reading. She has stacks of unread books in her house. She reads according to her mood. Her books are arranged to suit her moods. Her sister used to teach Latin (&hearts!) in private school. She has friends in high places and her (ex?-)husband is the head of Sony Pictures who regularly attends society functions. She falls in and subsequently out of love with Fred, an assistant in a bookstore who is also a playwright, and can quote passages from his favourite books for any occasion. He’s basically the male version of the manic pixie dream girl! Fred’s mother and niece are such lovely people. Her BFF Darlene is the wild
child middle-aged sidekick (aha, stereotype).
TELL ME, what’s not to love about this book?
Sara leans in and searchingly asks me, “So what kind of books do you like?”
"Yikes." I start maniacally thinking aloud. "There are so many different categories, it’s impossible to just name a few, don’ you think?"
"Try," Sara presses.
"Okay, okay, I’m thinking. I like stories about lovers, seduction, sex, marriage, violence, murder, dreams, and death, and also stories that focus on the family with all its dysfunction and grief. I love writers who make their women characters independent, smart, and courageous but also passionate and romantic. I love plots about bitter old men and women who turn all soft and mushy for the love of a child. I love writers who focus on women who reach middle age and then ask, ‘Now what?’ or lonely disappointed women who live in suburbia and can’t get out, or authors who write about the pain of growing up, searching for identity. But most of all I love books about spontaneous love affairs that go wrong or veer off into unchartered territory. It’s the sudden twists f fate that I like and the unexpected outcomes. Doesn’t everyone?"
YES, everyone does, or at least I do!
Well, except for the bit about bitter old men and women. Not a fan of the “old”, but heart of stone melting into mush for that child who changes your life? Yes please. I don’t like much violence, unless there’s comfort at the end of it. I especially love mid-life, or even quarter-life, crises. Anyway, the passage continues -
"Jesus, Dora." Fred is taken aback. He’s quiet for a minute and then starts to say something.
I’m on a roll. I keep blathering on. “How about authors like Carson McCullers, Anne Tyler, William Styron, Mary Gordon, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Mary McCarthy, Alice Munro?” I look up and realize that they’re both staring at me. How embarrassing. I’ve fallen into that god-awful abyss that voracious readers often fall into, a pious, smug, self-congratulatory, virtuous display of “what a thoughtful, superior, and sensitive well-read person I am.” They’ve probably heard this a zillion times. They work in a bookstore. I’m such a bore.
"My personal favourite," says Fred, "is Dorothy Parker, who wrote lines like, ‘His voice was as intimate as the rustle of sheets and he kissed easily.’"
My god. Just kill me now.
One of Dora’s favourite writers is Dorothy Parker. She sounds awesome.
"Tell him I’ve been too fucking busy - or vice versa." - Dorothy Parker to Harold Ross, when asked why she had not delivered her manuscript on time.
There is a booklist at the end, with all the titles and writers mentioned.
This book caught my eye right away; it comes right after I told a newspaper intern how great museum docents should have empathy for their visitors and historical empathy towards, well, historical figures and the periods that they’ve lived through.
It also comes after I read articles on schizoid personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder. And before that, I was reading up on Asperger’s Syndrome.
Man, I love knowing more about these things! Makes me feel I’m not alone, and that there are always more extreme cases out there.
Anyway, in what I’ve read of “Zero Degrees” so far, the author’s main argument is that we all lie somewhere on an “empathy” scale and people who score a zero tend to be what we consider “evil” because they simply cannot look at things from another person’s point of view. And then he describes cases of borderline personality disorder, as well as posits the reasons why people develop the disorder - early childhood, issues of abandonment (very armchair psychologist), etc, relating it to the larger discussion of empathy. Marilyn Monroe is one of those intriguing examples. Colour me intrigued.
However, a zero on the empathy scale doesn’t always mean that the person will be a psychopath (though analysis of prison inmates does point out a high correlation) as it can have positive outcomes.
Like what, I have no idea. I’m waiting to get to that part!
EDITED TO ADD: According to the author’s test here (link), I scored 37! I’m average! Then again, the author also says that self-testing often leads to people thinking they’re more empathetic than they really are, since people who lack empathy are also unable to (rephrasing in my own words) empathise with themselves.
I don’t think I’ll be torturing fluffy little kittens anytime soon.
Reading Neil Gaiman’s much-hyped novel for the first time.
"The age of information … not, of course, that there has ever been any other kind of age. Information and knowledge: two currencies that have never gone out of style."
Another one of those little things that keep me going: when I step into a library, breathe in the familiar air heavy from centuries of learning, look at “rows upon rows of [bookshelves], as far as the eye can see…” LOL.
Anyway. Yes, I love books and information and knowledge but more than that, I love the heady rush and feeling of power that comes from the fact that I KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO. [evil villain-ish mocking laughter]
ROFL - I can’t take myself seriously.
Bookshelf: the (mostly) GAMING edition.
I’m about to write a three to four thousand word paper on video games! And prepare a short presentation on Emperor Qin! I love this course. :D
1) Handbook of computer game studies / edited by Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein
Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press, c2005
2) The makers and keepers of Singapore history / edited by Loh Kah Seng & Liew Kai Khiun
Singapore : Ethos Books : Singapore Heritage Society, c2010
Yes, reading this book again because it’s freaking awesome (and I need it for dissertation). And I totally agree with that chapter on the National Museum, let me quote its absolutely lovely conclusion:
To be a real museum, it needs to refocus on its core business - Singapore history - and to present it in a way that will draw people to the space because they get to see real objects, and not because they might enjoy an expensive cup of tea under the gaze of the swinging chandeliers.
- Kevin Tan, p136
3) Communities of play : emergent cultures in multiplayer games and virtual worlds / Celia Pearce and Artemesia; forewords by Tom Boellstorff and Bonnie A. Nardi
Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press, c2009
4) A casual revolution : reinventing video games and their players / Jesper Juul
Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press, c2010
So I just noticed that a lot of these books were published by MIT. *is slow* Also, this book’s ISBN has “1337" - it’s a SIGN! HAHAHAHA XD
5) Vintage games : an insider look at the history of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the most influential games of all time / Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton
Amsterdam ; Singapore : Focal Press, c2009
Crap. I hope I did the Amsterdam and Singapore thing correctly and Focal Press vs Elsevier, since Focal Press “is an imprint of Elsevier” and they were given equal emphasis on the title page… *goes to look at last semester’s notes*
6) What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy : revised and updated edition / James Paul Gee
New York, N.Y. : Palgrave Macmillan, c2007
7) Shorts 1 / by Haresh Sharma
Singapore : The Necessary Stage, c2010
Is TNS a publisher? Oh well. It’s all I could find on the verso. I’m so glad this book came out, because I read “Interlogue Studies in Singapore Literature. Volume 6: Haresh Sharma” (also mentioned on the verso in acknowledgement) and wanted to read the original texts pretty badly. So, yay!
8) Library : an unquiet history / Matthew Battles
New York, N.Y. : W.W.Norton & Company, c2003
From left to right:
Singapore: a biography / Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
Singapore : Editions Dider Millet Pte Ltd and National Museum of Singapore, 2009
This book is SO good. And it’s super useful for my docent training, since it’s basically the research material upon which the History Gallery is based.
Memories unfolded: a guide to Memories At Old Ford Factory / edited by Pitt Kuan Wah
Singapore : National Archives of Singapore, c2008
Visited the OFF on a field trip with the museum ladies. Some books were on sale at the museum, but the staff recommended going to the library for the books instead of buying them. LOL!
Theater Geek: the real life drama of a summer at Stagedoor Manor, the famous performing arts camp / Mickey Rapkin
New York, N.Y. : Free Press, 2010
Love this book. I finished this the fastest. And as you can see I was concurrently reading four books…
The scripting of a national history : Singapore and its past / Hong Lysa and Huang Jian Li
Singapore : NUS Press, c2008
I remember when I was reading “Makers and keepers of Singapore’s history”, there were a few references to this book. Haven’t started on it though.
The history of Changi / Henry Probert
Singapore : Changi University Press, 2006
Question - Changi University Press is obviously fake, though the title page lists it as the publisher. And yeah, we know the moving story of Changi University, let’s skip the history lesson. This book was published (or at least copyrighted) by Changi Museum Pte Ltd. So what happens in the bibliographic record?!?
Anyway, museum ladies had a separate field trip to Changi - museum, Selarang Camp, beach… It was lovely, in a “wow, this doesn’t feel like Singapore” way - that didn’t just come from me, Elodie (French lady from my docent group) said it.
Filled with glee : the unauthorized Glee companion / edited by Leah Wilson
Dallas, Texas : BenBella Books, Inc., 2010
FANGIRL! To be honest though, the essays weren’t very well-written. They sound kind of informal, like a collection of high school term papers or even blog entries (like this!), though the short intros on the contributors made me think they should’ve written better (?). Teachers, published authors… I don’t know - is this because of the book’s target audience? *frowneyface*
I married a barbarian / Dennis Bloodworth and Liang Ching Ping
Singapore : Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2010
Looking at the title and the authors’ names, you know this is about culture shock and clashes and (from the blurb) “how love transcends geography, culture and daily tribulations”. Yup. Skimmed through the first chapter and decided to bring it home. I hope it’s good!
So I was wandering the aisles of Jurong West Library, doing my weekly volunteer duty counting and replenishing books on display (yes I see your skeptical faces - is that even an actual duty?! IT IS.) I came across two really cute books:
"I <3 Geeks" by Carrie Tucker, and
"Geektastic" by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. What can I say? It was great.
I’m not a total geek/nerd, but I can appreciate some of the in-jokes and references. And I hadn’t read a short story compilation in a long time, largely because I can’t really appreciate the form. I’m the sort who likes loooong novels where I can slowly savour the plot and characters’ back stories, etc. Shorts are like, reading an interesting blurb that has you hooked, and then having the book snatched away from you! “Geektastic” was enjoyable, all the same.
Dracula the Un-dead by Dacre Stoker, Bram’s great-grandnephew, and Ian Holt reads like a novelisation of an American drama series (with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, but without the gratuitous sex). Or a really good fanfic of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Either way, it made for three hours of good entertainment.
When I read in the Authors’ Note that Ian Holt was a screenwriter, I was completely taken by non-surprise. Seriously, chapters end: “One hundred and eighty miles away, in Exeter, Mina Harker awoke screaming.” It wasn’t difficult to imagine ending credits scrolling in front of my eyes followed by flashes of next episode’s highlights.
There were “cuts” to people far away from the action, who went about their lives and viewed the events unfolding in the story from a certain distance. It was a pretty obvious film thing to do, I thought. But I loved the back stories that Stoker and Holt provided, which fleshed out the original story and provided insights into Dracula’s character especially, given how “Dracula” was epistolary.
The whole gritty, dangerous atmosphere was well-crafted, but then again, most of the time my mind was already helpfully supplying thoughts of: “Cobblestone! Dark! Foggy!” for the city scenes and “Forest! Castle! Dark! Foggy!” for countryside scenes.
So. The main gist of this sequel is that Dracula survived - obviously, but an even greater evil lurks. The “band of heroes” were completely unaware of this in the original story. It turns out that a female lesbian vampire Elizabeth Bathory has been committing heinous crimes all across Europe and Dracula himself tries to stop her, under the guise of Basarab the theatre actor and his travelling troupe. She is also revealed as Jack the Ripper.
Always the female demonised. Oh well. I think it has something to do with hot lesbian vamps and God-fearing males.
I loved how the authors blended historical facts and figures into the story, including even Bram Stoker himself as someone who was told the story of Dracula, not realizing the tale actually took place, and was now trying to stage a production of it at the Lyceum after Henry Irving died.
Speaking of death, most of the original cast dies in this sequel in one gruesome way or another. We’re told of their descent into darkness fighting their personal demons after witnessing the traumatic events in “Dracula”, and that the “band of heroes” have gradually grown apart in the 25 years since they thought they killed Dracula for good. Et cetera. Some characters redeem themselves, some don’t. New characters also die all too soon after we develop a love-hate relationship with them. Anyway, their back stories and the seamless introduction of new characters was why I thought the book read like a bloody brilliant fanfic. Alternative interpretations and fresh takes are always something I look forward to when I sink my teeth into a new, novel-length fic.
Oh, and the little nugget about Titanic in the concluding pages? Cute!
But I still think the original is the best. :) I finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the library today!