Done (2018)

Final copy for 2018. This year was characterized by a humongous intake of Big Bang – particularly after I discovered TOP in his first movie Nineteen. Watched it, it didn’t really make an impression except for his rapping at the end, and when I finally looked up who that rapper was maybe 1 month after I watched the movie I started watching all his music videos and had fallen down the Big Bang rabbit hole. I must be a certified VIP (that’s what they call their fanbase) if my husband sings their songs unconsciously while doing his work. We also watched quite a lot of variety shows this year, in addition to my regular Happy Together intake we started on Please Take Care of my Fridge and now, I Live Alone, and all the Music Festival mudo episodes. That will probably explain why so little reading/piano practice got done :P It takes real dedication to watch tv. There was also a half hearted stab at clearing some Prime Video things off my watchlist before I delete my prime account next year, which introduced me to the quite marvellous Mrs Maisel (how can Emily Nussbaum not like her? Like. Why?) , and allowed me to finally start and finish Downton Abbey, which my Ithaca mum loves so much but I’d never watched enough to find out why. We also had one week of access to our friend’s Netflix account while house sitting for them, which let me complete two seasons of the Great British Bake Off :P We may be house sitting again in 2 months, which will hopefully let me complete more seasons. Anyway we will likely get our own Netflix subscription once we move back. I just never really saw the need, not when I have so many other things to watch that are not on netflix. Probably 50% of why I get it would be for our parents.

Books read:
1. In the Distance; Hernan Diaz
2. Night Vision, National Geographic
3. Princess Diaries; Meg Cabot
4. Royal Crush; Meg Cabot
5. Place of Secrets; Rachel Hore
6. Amelia Bedelia; Peggy Parish
7. Queen of Babble; Meg Cabot
8. Queen of Babble in the Big City; Meg Cabot
9. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched; Meg Cabot
10. Mount Emily; Low Ying Ping (eh. Was expecting something about Ovidia Yu’s standard but this was like a secondary school composition)
11. Under One Sky; anthology – hit and miss.
12. Velouria; Daren Shiau
13. Death of a Perm Sec; Wong Souk Yee
14. Boy Next Door; Meg Cabot
15. Boy Meets Girl; Meg Cabot
16. Every Boy’s Got One; Meg Cabot
17. The Boy is Back; Meg Cabot
18. All American Girl; Meg Cabot
19. Ready or not; Meg Cabot
20. Heartwishes; Jude Deveraux
21. Highland Velvet; Jude Deveraux
22. Wabi Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers; Leonard Koren
23. She Went All The Way; Meggin Cabot
24. Change of Heart; Jude Deveraux
25. Kyoto: A Landscape Meditation; Hiroshi Masaki
26. Gardens of Gravel and Sand; Leonard Kohen
27. Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?; Roz Chast
28. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes
29. Jack and Jill; L.M. Alcott
30. How to be Italian, Lou D’Angelo
31. Pippi Longstocking; Astrid Lindgren
32. These Islands; Rosa Park (Cereal publication on the British Isles)
33. Letters to a Young Poet; Rainer Maria Rilke
34. The Shoemaker’s Wife; Adriana Trigiani
35. Defying Gravity; Roger Mcgough
36. My First Wife; Jakob Wasserman
37. The Fry Chronicles; Stephen Fry (this was so good…rekindled my love for British comics. A man after my own heart, we fangirl over the same people! And I just found out he’s only 90% gay and was totally gonna ask Rowan Atkinson’s exwife out before Rowan Atkinson snuck in before him)

Now reading: Doctor Thorne, Anthony Trollope

Dramas completed:
1. Temptation (2014)
2. Cheese in the trap
3. What’s Up, Fox (this was awful!)
4. The Page Turner (microdrama)
5. Squad 38
6. Pride and Prejudice (watched with Chris, who humoured me :P)
7. Emma
8. Return (2018)
9. Lucky Romance
10. The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop (2016-17)
11. Angry Mom
12. I am Sam (T.O.P was sooo young in here! Glad to say his acting has improved a lot since then :P)
13. Voice
14. Suits
15. My Mister
16. Iris (T.O.P’s part is toooo small! Also I’m not really sure what happened at the end >.>)
17. Secret Message (another very unclear plot)
18. Reunited Worlds (watched for Lee Yeon Hee! I really like her diction. The drama got kinda draggy towards the end, and the writers didn’t seem to tie in small details from the front, like how Hae Sung couldn’t use mobile phones. And here I was thinking everything would become a major plot point :S Would be better with less crying, couply angst, and in 16 episodes instead of 20.)
19. The Package (2017) – watched for Lee Yeon Hee. Review in a Roman Holiday.
20. Wok of Love/Greasy Melo (This made us so…o hungry!)
21. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (The plot got lost somewhere halfway down the road after the kidnapping thing was resolved. Nearly the entire second half was fluff!)
22. Are you human, too? (2018)
23. Lady of Dignity (2017) – not bad at all
24. A Poem A Day
25. Noona who buys me food (2018) – This was so exquisite, especially the piano tracks. So well acted by Jung Hae In, despite his young age. Directed by the same guy who directed Secret Love Affair, this director really seems to like noona-dongsaeng love stories.
26. Queen of Mystery (2017)
27. Queen of Mystery 2
28. Miss Hammurabi
29. Anne with an E, Season 1 (this was pretty good! I didn’t mind that they deviated from the plot a bit with different crises, all the characters’ personalities were pretty well preserved)
30. Anne with an E, Season 2
31. The Great British Bake Off Collection 1 (Netflix)
32. The Great British Bake Off Collection 2 (Netflix)
33. Let’s Eat 3 (2018)
34. Upstairs Downstairs Season 1
35. Upstairs Downstairs Season 2
36. Downton Abbey Season 1
37. Downton Abbey Season 2
38. Downton Abbey Season 3
39. Downton Abbey Season 4
40. Scholar who walks the night (really not into vampire tv shows)
41. Player (2018)
42. The smile has left your face (2018)
43. 100 Days My Prince
44. Downton Abbey Season 5
45. Downton Abbey Season 6
46. Doctor Thorne (Prime Video)
47. Home Fires Season 1
48. Home Fires Season 2
49. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 1
50. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 2
51. Voice 2 (the ending was so unsatisfactory, LZ and I both felt quite wtf after the last ep)
52. Radio Romance (absence of eye candy)

Now watching: Live, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Fushigi Yugi (abandoned), SKY Castle

Movies watched:
1. Never Been Kissed
2. Marriage Blue
3. All about my wife
4. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (frightfully fluffy and totally departs from Meg Cabot’s original series. It would have been better if they were faithful.)
5. The Stepmom
6. Four Weddings and a Funeral (loved it! Understood it so much better the second time around :P)
7. Confessions of a Shopaholic
8. Must Love Dogs
9. Keeping Mum (dark. Mr Bean makes an appearance as a normal human! Well. As normal as he can be anyway.)
10. 50 First Dates (Adam Sandler’s humor is crass and slapstick.)
11. My Old Lady (Dame Maggie Smith. She’s excellent at playing all these roles nowadays. V. similar to A. Bennett’s Lady in the Van.)
12. A Room with a View (Boring! Jane Austen is much better at this.)
13. Just Friends (I forgot how charming Ryan Reynolds is fat. His lip sync cracks me up every time)
14. Mr Bean’s Holiday (The little french boy looks so much like Jean Baptiste Maunier. French boys are adorable.)
15. Bad Moms (Not terrible script! Mila Kunis’ acting is so much better than in That 70’s show)
16. Date Night (Quite funny, and stressful when they did all that damage to the audi :S)
17. The Concubine (I knew she was going to kill him in the end!)
18. Hysteria (love Maggie Gyllenhaal)
19. Sweet Home Alabama (Reese Witherspoon was great in this one. The southern accent is so cute.)
20. Gosford Park (rather intriguing but I was watching while brailling Amelia Bedelia so may not have retained all that much. Maggie Smith has some zingers as usual.)
21. Miracle in Cell no. 7 (Super good!!!)
22. All About Steve (a lot about crosswords! More like All About Mary, but there’s already a There’s Something about Mary.)
23. Miss Congeniality (2000)
24. While you were sleeping (1994) – in a Sandra Bullock phase!
25. Definitely, Maybe – probably my third time watching this but I had completely forgotten who the mum is and who he ended up with :S Ryan Reynolds is so fine
26. The Proposal (2009)
27. Hope Floats (1998)
28. Love of my life
29. Did you hear about the Morgans?
30. Nineteen (omg the rapper in here is amazing)
31. Indescribable (Terrible. Never watching Christian movies again. The acting and script and everything was so bad I think someone on Rotten Tomatoes said it takes legitimate talent to make something so bad.)
32. Quigley Down Under (Quite funny but kinda yankophilic. I watched for Alan Rickman, who was so foppish in this one! They made Tom Selleck look like such a good guy and all the British look ridiculous.)
33. The Wedding Singer
34. A Royal Night Out (Totally did not recognize Rupert Everett as the king!)
35. Arthur Newman (Colin Firth!)
36. Begin Again (Keira Knightley sang some pretty good tracks in here.)
37. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (watched for Colin Firth! This Eggsy guy is pretty cute though)
38. Chihayafuru 1 (crazy people playing karuta. The female lead looks astonishingly like Yoo Rahel from the Heirs)
39. Chihayafuru 2
40. Say Anything (I didn’t know it was set in Seattle!)
41. Canola (2016) – Love Kim Go Eun. Choi Minho played such a minor role.
42. Laggies (2014) – so many recognizable parts of the set! When I first saw the vegetation and the grocery outlet I knew it had to be filmed out here.
43. Tazza 2: The Hidden Card (T.O.P is so swoony!!!!)
44. Commitment
45. Miss you already (Toni Colette and Drew Barrymore, who somehow never ages)
46. Hotel Chevalier
47. Collateral Beauty
48. Miracle in Cell no. 7
49. Hotel Chevalier
50. Nine Months (Hugh Grant is so young here!)
51. Nineteen (first thing I watched with T.O.P in it – see entry 30. Wasn’t really paying attention the first time.)
52. Socialphobia (watched for Ryu Jun Yeol! He was great as Mr. Babble.)
53. 71: Into the Fire (Tabi did an amazing job, especially after I saw him in I am Sam and Iris. His acting was much improved here, military movies really suit him.)
54. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
55. Magic in the Moonlight
56. Atonement (2007)
57. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
58. Coraline
59. He’s just not that into you
60. Crazy Rich Asians (this was so good!!)
61. The Cat Funeral
62. The Post (watched in Maui with that redbox card that came included with the hotel fee)
63. A Wrinkle In Time (Also watched in Maui. omg this was so bad. I can’t believe how bad they made it. What a waste of such a diverse cast!)
64. Wonderful Nightmare (2015) (beautiful Song Seung Heon!)
65. An Ideal Husband
66. Mother and Child
67. She’s Happy That Way
68. A Taxi Driver (2017) (This was so amazing!! Exciting and funny at the same time. The Danish cookies were a cute touch.)
69. The White Countess (Ralph Fiennes, and a very familiar looking old woman. Not a very attention arresting story however.)
70. A Walk in the Woods (watched for Emma Thompson. Her role was so small though)
71. Hippopotamus (Movie version of Stephen Fry’s book. Didn’t recognize any of the actors! The protagonist has the same demeanour as Fry though.)
72. Sweet Revenge
73. Little Forest (Ryu Jun Yeol is so cute here. Loved the entire movie, especially the country cooking segments)
74. The Accidental Detective 2 (Is there a 1?? I have to watch it!)
75. Alone in Berlin (super beautiful score)
76. Finding Mr. Right (cute chinese romcom set in Seattle with Tang Wei, who reminds me so much of Michelle)
77. Cafe Society (Woody Allen movie on prime video)
78. Match Point (watched for the handsome Matthew Goode, who is Henry Talbot in Downton Abbey! I’d seen him (and liked him) in Match Point before Downton actually)
79. An Education (screenplay by Nick Hornby)
80. Sunshine Cleaning
81. Lost in Translation
82. Men, Women, and Children
83. Christmas with the Kranks (2004) – wow a $6100 christmas is unthinkable. Wtf is hickory honey ham? And how good is it exactly? I can’t believe people hire professional photographers for their christmas cards. That is… insane.
84. Love at the Christmas Table (Feels like a made for TV movie, i.e. don’t watch it)
85. Under the Greenwood Tree
86. The Family Stone – probably my 3rd or 4th time, still great!
87. Mr Bean’s Holiday
88. Final Recipe (with Michelle Yeoh and Henry. Impossible to find the original English version that is not dubbed over in Chinese. I really dislike Chinese dubbed voices. They all sound so slimy and insurance salesperson-y, and ruined Henry for me.)
Now watching:

Games played:
1. Go Stop
2. That’s my fish!
3. Saboteur
4. Bang the dice game
5. Bohnanza
6. Citadels
7. Through the Ages
8. Overcooked
9. Drawful 2
10. Bang
11. Oceanopoly
12. Decrypto
13. Carcassonne

Piano pieces learning:
1. Je Te Veux; Satie
2. Piano Concerto no. 2, mvt III; Rachmaninoff, arr. by Grainger

Phaidon Book log

Have:

Benu
The debut book from the celebrated, James Beard Award-winning Corey Lee, chef/patron of San Francisco’s Benu and pioneer of modern Asian food
Corey Lee

I first bought Benu for its ridiculously creative cover.


René Redzepi: A Work in Progress
Journal, Recipes and Snapshots
An unprecedented insight into the inner workings of restaurant Noma and its highly creative team of chefs
René Redzepi
I only have the recipe book, not the snapshots or the journal.


The Art of the Restaurateur
Reveals the hidden stories behind some of the world’s best restaurants, which celebrate the complex but unrecognised art of the restaurateur.
Nicholas Lander owned L’Escargot in London in the 1980’s. He is a renowned food columnist for the Financial Times.

The architectural sketches inside are quite beautiful but some have argued that the chef’s profiles are quite meaningless for new/aspiring restaurateurs.

Want:

Japan: The Cookbook
The definitive, home cooking recipe collection from one of the most respected and beloved culinary cultures
Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Aska
Aska is the debut cookbook from chef Fredrik Berselius, following the reimagining and rebuilding of his two-Michelin-starred restaurant
Fredrik Berselius


Boragó
Coming from the South
Internationally acclaimed star chef Rodolfo Guzmán of Boragó introduces the exciting world of high-end Chilean gastronomy
Rodolfo Guzmán


Room for Dessert
The definitive guide to perfect pastry from the former elBulli apprentice and his destination restaurant in Bali
Will Goldfarb


Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking
The best modern Italian recipes from the largest and most prestigious Italian marketplace in the world
Eataly


China: The Cookbook
The definitive cookbook bible of the world’s most popular and oldest cuisine
Kei Lum and Diora Fong Chan


omg Restaurant Andre has a book!

Octaphilosophy
The Eight Elements of Restaurant André
The culinary philosophy of premiere chef André Chiang, whose Restaurant André is in the top 50 world’s best restaurants list and is number 5 in Asia’s best restaurants.
André Chiang and Lotta Jörgensen


Not a fan of the font, but apparently all their Italian recipe books have the same Phaidon logo going on.

Puglia
Puglia is the latest title in the Silver Spoon regional cookbook series, building on the success of Tuscany and Sicily


What to Bake & How to Bake It
The ultimate step-by-step baking book for beginners
Jane Hornby


Thailand: The Cookbook
The definitive book on Thai cuisine, with more than 500 recipes
Jean-Pierre Gabriel


How to Boil an Egg
A collection of simple and nutritious ways to cook and eat eggs from the ever popular Rose Bakery
Rose Bakery


Fish
Recipes from the Sea
Fish: Recipes from the Sea is a celebratory collection of more than 200 recipes for cooking with fish and seafood from The Silver Spoon Kitchen
The book cover looks just like pieces from Calder mobiles, in fact, exactly as I would have laser cut them, with the two holes for mounting and balance.


The Art of French Baking
The definitive collection of authentic French pastry and dessert recipes
Ginette Mathiot


Home cooking with Ferran Adrià
The first book of home-cooking recipes by Ferran Adrià, the world’s most influential chef
Ferran Adrià

Book haul (HPB)

It all started with an innocent little trip to the Redmond Half Price Books. We weren’t even intending to go there, and were just dropping by briefly during a trip to the French Bakery to pick up a baguette and to World Market to pick up elderflower soda.

I found two fantastic Phaidon food books – a recipes from Noma cookbook by Rene Redzepi

– part of a set of 3, but the most important part

$45.58 for the whole set on amzn.

and a Ferran Adria

that was completely in Italian but with very instructive pictures. They were both $24.95, so I decided to only pick one, and was all set to go with the Ferran Adria, having more normal recipes using everyday ingredients that made easy meals. Z managed to convince me to go with the Noma one, which had much flashier pictures and amazing plating, but recipes that I would likely never make, rendering it a mere coffee table book. But it’s so beautiful inside! It’s good for plating ideas I guess!


Even if all the ingredients are impossible to find.

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I also found yet another Singapore/Malaysian cookbook to add to my growing stash – I’ve already got two Meat Men cookbooks, Christopher Tan’s Singapore Cooking by Tuttle, and Christina Arokiasamy’s The Malaysian Kitchen. This one seemed interesting because it had a lot more “street” recipes and not just the famous ones.

Case in point:

This person did pretty good research despite having no affiliation with Singapore. This one was $10 in HPB and basically brand new. ($15 on amzn)

Anyway they did some advertising for their warehouse sale, which made us head down to the HPB warehouse in Greenwood – they were having a fill a bag for $20 sale. The books there were way less interesting than what is in the eastside stores, definitely no Phaidon or even the likes of it, things were organized very broadly by genre and not by specifics, so we couldn’t find anything really amazing. I looked through their entire fiction section and did not see a single Persephone book. We did however decide to fill a bag, largely with comics :P


$10.95 on amzn


$12.95 on amzn


$10.95 on amzn


$16.95 on amzn


$8.64 on amzn


$10.95 on amzn

I’ve had a soft spot for Dilbert and Foxtrot from my adolescence


$17.95 on amzn


$10.66 on amzn.
My New Yorker addiction is more recent


We also put in a bunch of CDs but this is the only one we kept – Ryoji Ikeda’s Supercodex ($19.98 on Amzn) – the jacket is so weird and funny and each track sounds like something that would be playing in a film installation in a museum.

Some random fiction:

$14.58 on amzn


$9.56 on amzn


$21.95 on amzn


$11.75 on amzn. zomg the amzn picture is so bad.


A cute kid’s book with great illustrations that I might braille one day – $11.95 on amzn


And this huge photobook of Maui to scout for photo locations on our upcoming trip. The photo quality is not that great (compared to most modern photo books), I may decide to not keep it, but for now it’s a decent guide – $22.83 on amzn.

Total: $212.60 (amzn). Not bad for a $20 haul! And everything was basically new. Unfortunately at the warehouse sale we picked up two more HPB coupons, one for 50% off everything in their Olympia branch. Z and I have never been to Olympia (only passing through on the way up and down from Portland) and we had an insane number of fuel points so decided to make a trip south. I drove the 1.5 hours there and Z took care of the journey back. I wasn’t expecting too much since it was a HPB outlet, not a regular HPB, but we ended up getting a bunch of stuff!


McSweeney’s vol. 15 – $1.50 (HPB)/$14.82 (amzn) – some water damage on the fabric on the top part of the cover


McSweeney’s vol. 20 – $1.50 (HPB)/$4.95 (amzn)

McSweeney’s covers are so delicious. Vol. 20 is completely embossed!


To add to my almost complete Alan Bennett collection – although this is a volume I might actually already have, but bought so long ago in Singapore to not remember :P. I wasn’t expecting to see any British literature here. 25c (HPB)/$9.97 (amzn)


50c (HPB)/$11.95 (amzn)


50c (HPB)/$13.50 (amzn)

More books to prep for our trip to Maui. This is the first time we have ever purchased this much literature in advance of a trip. I feel like I may return/discard them after the trip, but I guess the pocket guide will make for easier ID-ing if we see anything strange there. If I find the birding book truly useful/instructive then I will probably repaper the awful cover. I recently papered over our guide to birds in Seattle with some navy seikaiha paper from a random nautical stack from Michael’s and it looks 100x better. The Hawaiian haikus are rather strangely tropical compared to regular japanese haiku but the book is filled with cute little woodblock prints similar to that on the cover that I may want to carve in rubber.


The amazing Japanese haul


A Taschen icons book! I love their icons series and have ogled them in Kinokuniya since young!
$1 (HPB)/$4 (amzn)


A strange episodic book I picked up from the fiction section and wanted to put back but Z wanted in the end.
$1.50 (HPB)/$15.87 (amzn)


The arts were – the art of tea ceremony, ikebana, kabuki, and calligraphy/brush painting. The only one we’re not interested in is the kabuki section.


$1.50 (HPB)/$5.99 (amzn). Not one of those questions that inevitably pops into my mind :P


A really old book on Chinese brush painting – In the way of the Master, published by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
$1 (HPB)/$10.94 (amzn)


$1.50 (HPB)/$30 (amzn)


Cute pocket FLW book that had much better pictures than what we saw in the various FLR houses’ gift shops. It’s a really tiny volume though.
$1 (HPB)/$8.51 (amzn)


50c (HPB)/$14.75 (amzn) – first saw in an airport drugstore. I have all his other fiction.


$1 (HPB)/$13.45 (amzn)


$1 (HPB)/$9.99 (amzn)


$1.50 (HPB)/$14.53 (amzn) – another relic from my youth. The entire thing is handwritten and drawn :o This one is in preparation for our Yosemite road trip in October.


$1.50 (HPB)/$11.96 (amzn)


$1.50 (HPB)/$8.27 (amzn)


$1.50 (HPB)/$12.99 (amzn)


Cute Japanese accordion notebook that’s printed on the inside pages as well
$1.50


Labels that I had actually bought on Amzn before for $16.95! $1.50 (HPB)

Total: $26.25 (HPB)/$233.39 (amzn)
Worth the trip down I guess! Olympia also has a lot of big stores like Jo Anns/Michael’s/T.J. Maxx/Target etc. that somehow you can’t find very near to Seattle. Our nearest Michael’s is 25 minutes away or something, as are all other stores that require a large amount of space. Or maybe we just live in the middle of nowhere :P We also finally tried a Buffalo Wild Wings for the first time, meh, can’t say it was particularly impressive. Duffy’s in Buffalo is so much better. The BWW fries are really intriguing though – they are presalted all the way through, but also cut directly from the potato (all the skin was showing) so we had a long discussion on how they could have salted the potato so that the salt permeated the entire thing before cutting. My conclusion was a wet brine, especially since potatoes contain a lot of water it would be easy to replace their water content with salt water. The texture also ended up being a lot better than Mcdonald’s fries I think because of the brine – they didn’t get stale as quickly and even the stale fries were still edible, not hard and card boardy. We spend a lot of time thinking about food :P

latest book

So Yishun Library just opened while we were here and I homed in directly on their singlit section. Nobody else showed much interest except a young boy who was there poring through the Singapore Ghost Stories. I picked up an anthology – Under One Sky, and so far the most brilliant thing I have seen in it is this:

2018-02-05 13.59.15.jpg

So cute. I confess the shorts translated from Chinese were lost on me (even after translation!) in that I did not see the point of some of them but I did like the one with the paper menagerie. I read it at the dentist and almost cried right before it was my turn to be seen, which would have made the dentist understandably antsy if his patient were in tears before her teeth were even fiddled with.

The ones translated from Malay were also meandering with not much of a concrete plot, just themes woven together to evoke certain moods. So this poem is still my favourite. Yishun Library is super snazzy now with little reading nooks (with individual lights you can turn off and on), loads of magazine cubbies, and a ton of people already using it; it was as if it was never closed (I went on opening day).

Northpoint has also become a veritable food haven with restaurants I actually like! Of course after 20 odd years of living in Yishun they only decide to up their game when I am about to move away. There’s Din Tai Fung, Sushi Tei, London Duck, Canton Paradise, 4fingers/Bonchon/Jinjja chicken – three korean fried chicken establishments. We don’t even have one in Seattle and there are now THREE in Yishun.

Of course even with all those restaurants I asked X to venture further with me to Yishun Park where there is a famous har cheong gai. Our JC music teacher joined us (since we all live in the north) and he finally got a free meal out of us in exchange for the torture we subjected him to back in JC. I used to go over his notes and worksheets with green and red squiggly lines for spelling/grammatical errors and bounced them back to him. After the rather excellent Ah Tan chicken wings we took a bus back to Northpoint and he gave us a most uninformative tour of the place in which he basically pointed at restaurants and said “So here’s some food” and “There’s some more food…”

Of course halfway through he tried to get me to quit my job and to join him and X at MOE teaching music/planning the music syllabus, and also to help him screenwrite some of the shorts he wants to film/produce since he thinks my language skills are decent and we have established that his sucks. Every time I meet this guy or talk to this guy the odds of being asked to do creative work for him (for free, in my limited spare time) are very high. He thinks I’ve been wasting my life away studying math but I showed him my wooden adult mobiles (he has a v. strange brain in which he doesn’t know many words or technical terms for objects, in this case ‘mobiles’, but once I namedrop Alexander Calder we both reset to the same page. So one sorta needs to know how to hack his brain before any comms can be established.) and baby origami mobiles and he thinks I should sell them on Carousell under the Baby Toys section. He says that they will sell (I never doubted that) from $50-$100 apiece, but I have barely had any time to actually make some for commercial purposes (even though I have already designed a logo for my etsy shop, but that’s about as far as I’ve got :P). So far I have only made 3? for young kids that I actually know (or whose parents I know), and one for ourselves. He still has our work and the H3 projects we did in 2007 in his cubicle! Crazy! Is he a hoarder? I barely remember what I wrote back then.

In fact the other day Z told me his mum found a review I wrote of the book she gave me for my birthday last year and I could hardly remember that I wrote any such thing.  It has not even been a year since  I posted that. I don’t normally review books since I’m not really interested in reviewing books but that lady made me so pissed off with her rhetoric that I gave her a one star on Goodreads and basically warned everybody off buying her book. Which I guess was not the best thing for Z’s mum to find considering it was her gift :P Apparently I had written three extremely harsh paragraphs taking the entire thing apart and she got his entire family to read the review and they were all bemused. I felt bad after Z told me so went back to see what I wrote but everything was justified so I stopped feeling bad really quick :P

The Seven Friendships

They were friends from the first look
the first day of work and friends
they would remain. Not lovers.
Never, though they thought of things
to whisper about all day.
At night, when they sat at home
hunting for something to say
to their actual lovers,
they longed to be back at work,
where the home life they described
to each other seemed larger,
funnier, more colorful.

They were playful as gods and,
at the same time, serious.
Once, in a car, on the way
to a conference, they worked out
the seven possible forms
of friendship between people
who aren’t related by blood.

First: the fortunate friendship
of two who feel equally
attached but not attracted
to each other. No desire.
Instead, equilibrium,
a reliable membrane,
keeps them wholly separate
while holding them together.

You can always tell these two
in the kitchen: they can share
a cutting board — two different
sharp knives chopping two different
vegetables, and no one gets
in anyone else’s way.

Second: the friendship founded
on suppressed desire. All
the accessorizing takes
the place of real nakedness.
The servant’s invocations
to his master; the master’s
adulation of the slave.
Michael Jackson / Liz Taylor —
yes — Regis and Kathie Lee.

Letter writers are the third,
their correspondence floating
safely above and beyond
their problematic bodies
like a vial of scented oil.
They use each other without
apology — an excuse
to shape the simplest moment
into something memorable
ending with “Write soon, write back,”
that frank plea for affection.

Then there is the electric
communion that’s awakened
between two people vastly
different in age, like the
dowager one of them knew
who’d had to wait ’til she reached
ninety to meet a young child
she recognized as herself,
the adventuress she’d been.
At long last, the right playmate!

Fifth: the fireproof friendship
that has survived desire.
This includes all the ex-wives
and ex-husbands whose shared grief
unites them as love could not.
They drift back to each other,
grateful for a cup of tea,
for someone who remembers
that their first dentist in Troy
collected brass hose nozzles.

Next, a love of argument —
not bickering or nagging,
but the brainy brakes-without-
pads kind of arguing, no
attachment to conclusions,
no transparent right and wrong,
just the delirious pleasure
of competing for airspace
with someone you trust never
to take you personally.

And the seventh form? Friendship
based on the exchange of gifts,
preferably ridiculous.
Someone would get the idea
to buy odd salt and pepper
shakers, and once he’d purchased
the first set, a whole history
of silliness could begin.

That was when they stopped counting
and pulled off the interstate
on the way to the conference.
They found a small antique store,
Junkian Analysis —
really! — and in the windows
pairs of perfectly ugly
salt and pepper shakers shaped
like airplanes and bowling balls,
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
They liked the ceramic clams,
the Taj Mahal in Bakelite;
they loved the milkglass cabbage,
the jaguars, the shooting stars,
the stainless state of Vermont
side by side with New Hampshire.
*****

A lovely poem in an equally lovely collection by Erica Funkhouser I found in a used book store in San Diego.
How nice to think of you and another suspended in equilibrium, at once together and apart by a membrane. Like larvae in an egg sac, snug and with nowhere to go. It reminds me of Katherine Mansfield’s

We might be fifty, we might be five,
So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
Under the kitchen-table leg
My knee is pressing against his knee.

We started packing for our annual trip back today. Z is an excellent packer, loads of plates and bowls were tucked away into spaces I did not know existed. We usually try to concentrate on bringing back ceramics/glass since the rest can be shipped home with negligible damage. The house is a mess, and despite that I have asked Zh to come over on saturday to play gostop with me since I have huge withdrawal symptoms ever since Hr left. It was very nice to pick up where we left off (in 2015!!!) and to think that we might be back in Singapore at the same time for several years. Especially since a certain someone has informed me of tentative plans to move to Sardegna soon after we return to Singapore. What is that about even?! It’s almost as if she can’t bear to exist in the same country as me. How rude.

Z is reluctant to ever move again once we move back :P We will see how that goes. He says if I insist on moving away again he will sell all of my stuff and my painstakingly collected plates. We all know how successful he has been at getting his way in the past, so I’m not exactly worried about that.

Apparently I might make a return trip (alone) later this year to check on the renovations and he just realized that he will a) starve and b) have no one to bug. I haven’t decided if it’s nice to have someone depend on you for stuff. One the one hand it is nice to be needed/appreciated but on the other it’s kind of a pain to have to keep thinking ahead and preparing for meals. When I am left to my own devices and alone I’d usually resort to takeout :P Or reheating some junk in the freezer.

We got a free hunk of raclette on Sunday and that made me really happy. Granted, it’s American raclette but still. Free raclette!

I would love to visit an antique store called Junkian Analysis! So cute. Z has similarly corny names for all kinds of things – his dream Indian restaurant would be called Second to Naan, and his dream shellfish restaurant would be called Pot de Clam.

Is it weird to have a kid just so you’d have a third person to play Go Stop or other board games with? I think the returns are too low, it would take 14-15 years before that kid is old enough to understand the board games that we play (I had to check the age ratings of our board games once) and it would probably take less than a year for me to resent that kid for taking up too much of my time/attention/sleep. H recently posted an article on maternal regret and it seems highly worth a read, especially for all those moronic cloistered christian women in Singapore who keep pestering me about having kids or who claim that I will change my mind.

Kids’ books

You can never go back – on loving children’s books as an adult, says

Handy found a means to circumvent the social inconvenience of haunting library kid’s sections, though: having kids of his own.

this, while a pretty good reason to have kids, seems to be extending social inconvenience to an inconvenience that permeates all aspects of life. I’d rather haunt the children’s section alone like a creepy stalker, thanks very much. Most people probably do assume I am checking out books for my kids. I don’t know why so many people (particularly in church or family) seem to be overly interested in our offspring. Someone recently mistook an instagram post for a baby announcement. Most friends who know us know how anti-natalist we are and would never assume such a thing. So there is a clear divide between our close friends and all the other people who are the instagram audience and two different things are being communicated all the time.

I’ve recently started reading One More Thing, by B.J. Novak – it got off to a slow start with an alternative hare and rabbit tale (I am not a fan of fables, with all their moralizing) but got subsequently much better with “‘The Something’ by John Grisham” in which one of John Grisham’s books mistakenly gets released with the publisher thinking that ‘The Something’ was the title he wanted instead of just a placeholder for his typical lofty titles, which he hadn’t had time to come up with yet. John Grisham found out that his book ‘The Something’ was number one on best seller lists in his newspaper and shit hit the fan :P Almost Simon Rich-esque. Harvard must be doing something right.

Been too lazy/busy to start on christmas cards (and I really should, if I want to send them out at all) – instead I’ve been busy making luggage tags with Japanese maple leaves and my new Amazon Basics laminator. I looked up whether or not I could relaminate something (that had little air pockets) twice and this forum that told me I could (and I did) also informs on how laminating machines are not allowed in schools without excessive checks and then devolved completely into a principal bitchfest. “Is your principal my principal? Because…”

In other news, made 12 inarizushi today with a little packet of onigiri spices I brought back from Japan (you just mix it into the rice with sushi rice vinegar etc.) and tuna mayonnaise in the middle and inhaled like 10 of them throughout the course of the day. Got a huge inari craving yesterday while we were at uwajimaya. I’m all out of sushi vinegar though so can’t get my next fix until we go to the asian supermarket.

The ending of the article:

Handy ends his survey of child lit with E.B. White, whose terse brilliance has yet to be surpassed; he was similarly successful at writing for adults. The grand tear-jerking finale of Charlotte’s Web is technically the spider’s quiet death, but I’ve always struggled most with Fern’s declining interest in Wilbur the pig’s survival. She’s grown too invested in riding the Ferris wheel with a boy named Henry Fussy. White “doesn’t condemn her for it,” Handy notices approvingly, since “Fern’s interest in boys is as natural and inevitable as the change of seasons.” White doesn’t wish to stunt his heroine’s growth like other children’s authors might (C.S. Lewis infamously shamed Susan Pevensie for leaving Narnia behind in favor of lipstick and nylons when she came of age).

I understand Fern’s falling for Henry Fussy. I’ve fallen for more than a few Henry Fussys myself. But her abandonment of unsuspecting Wilbur still hurts me in a way a Henry type never could. I guess it’s the ache of innocence—the kind of ache that doesn’t have anything to do with lust or greed or any dark desire, but with deep-seated childhood fears. I don’t want Fern to leave Wilbur behind, because I feel as though she’s leaving me, moving on from our days of lounging in the barn amongst earthy smells, two lazy friends sat in the sun. At the same time, I know that I am Fern, and I’ve abandoned Wilbur a hundred times over, following the same societal and biological pull of romance and progress. I’ll probably be torn between the two all my life. Maybe everyone is.

Huh. I’d never thought of Lewis’ portrayal of Susan Pevensie as “shaming” but now that I think about it, that’s exactly what it is. I did feel a veneer of disdain toward her while reading the series. Omg all these children’s authors are just playing with my mind.

Dorcas, Fay, and Simon

From the third book in the Miss Buncle series, which I first started reading about 10 days into our honeymoon because I felt bad bringing such a thick book (Miss Buncle’s Book) along and not touching it. So I read about 2/3 of it on the eurostar from London to Bruges and the remaining 1/3 in the hotel at Bruges. Bringing addictive books is not in general a good idea for vacations because then you never feel like leaving the room and exploring.

I discovered to my delight that there were several more books in the series (at least three more), and that the Seattle library had nearly all of them! Here’s the most adorable excerpt from the book:

(Jerry is the female housekeeper of Ganthorne, cousin to the children’s mother. The children are Simon and Fay, with Fay being the youngest, and Dorcas being their nurse.

“We can’t come to tea the day after tomorrow because it’s Mummy’s birthday,” said Simon, wiping his mouth.

Jerry was disloyal enough to feel rather glad that the pleasure of her cousin’s company at Ganthorne was to be put off a little longer. “Oh yes, so it is,” she said. “What are you going to give Mummy for her birthday?”

Fay raised a milky mouth from her mug and said, “A pin!” and then she laughed uproariously, for she had her own peculiar sense of humor.

“It’s a book,” said Simon, ignoring her completely. “We’ve bought it between us, Dorcas and me. We’re going to write in it.”
“It’s a Bible, really,” said Dorcas. “It seems a funny sort of present, but–”
“With pictures,” said Simon.
“Pictures of the devil,” said Fay. She hesitated and then added, “Three devils, there was.”
“Oh Fay!” cried Dorcas. “It was Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego!”
“Why was they cooking them?” asked Fay.
“You’d think she was a heathen,” said Dorcas after a moment’s silence. “But she really does know lots of Bible stories, Mrs. Sam.”

“She knows about Daniel,” Simon declared. “You know Daniel, don’t you, Fay?”
“The lions et him,” said Fay with relish — and she took a large bite of cake to show how it was done.
“Silly, they didn’t eat him!” cried Simon.
“He et the lions, then,” suggested Fay a trifle doubtfully.
“Fay thinks of eating all the time,” explained Simon.
“I was wondering what we should write in the Bible,” said Dorcas, looking at Jerry inquiringly.

“I know what to write,” Simon declared. I’ve seen it written in a book before. It’s the proper thing to write in a book. Daddy has a book with that written in it and he said it made the book more valuable– that’s what Daddy said.”

“What is it?” asked Jerry and Dorcas with one accord.

“With the author’s compliments,” said Simon proudly.