Monday, October 30, 2006

Did all the touristy stuff the first time round

Travel halfway across the world. Watch films, buy books, walk around a lot, take tons of photos.

Movies (Airborne)
The Devil Wears Prada
Three Kings
Kramer vs. Kramer
Romance & Cigarettes
Working Girl

Movies (On Land)
The Science of Sleep
The Prestige
Marie Antoinette
The Last Movie
The Queen

Books: loved and lovable
Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris
John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
Voltaire, Candide
Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys
Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth
Book of Hours
Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

and assorted magazines &c.

Oh yes, and I managed to catch Yo La Tengo live in SF.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Off to SF and Berkeley

A scholar's education is greatly improved by traveling in quest of knowledge and meeting the authoritative teachers (of his time).

--- Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah

Monday, October 16, 2006

More BookMooch exploits

Received my second overseas book via BookMooch, this time from Australia. Manuel Puig's Heartbreak Tango.

I passed two of my books today to a fellow reader -- Natsume Soseki's I Am A Cat and Mark Kurlansky's highly-readable A Basque History of the World. I picked up I Am A Cat at the Kinokuniya bargain alley, but somehow couldn't muster enough interest to read it.

This morning, just before I gave it up, I noticed that it had been printed in curvaceous Perpetua. Why didn't I notice it before?

The Long Now and a history of "the future"

In surfing the net researching Stewart Brand, I came across The Long Now Foundation -- set up to fund the Clock of the Long Now and get people thinking long-term again. Author Michael Chabon:
I don’t know what happened to the Future. It’s as if we lost our ability, or our will, to envision anything beyond the next hundred years or so, as if we lacked the fundamental faith that there will in fact be any future at all beyond that not-too-distant date.

As he explains, once we lose our ability to think about a future beyond ourselves and our progeny, we lose something fundamentally human:

If you don’t believe in the Future, unreservedly and dreamingly, if you aren’t willing to bet that somebody will be there to cry when the Clock finally, ten thousand years from now, runs down, then I don’t see how you can have children. If you have children, I don’t see how you can fail to do everything in your power to ensure that you win your bet, and that they, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren, will inherit a world whose perfection can never be accomplished by creatures whose imagination for perfecting it is limitless and free.

"The Omega Glory" by Michael Chabon

The Long Now Foundation

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Diet of Worms, Q and Wu Ming

I love the BBC's In Our Time, podcast. This week's topic - the Diet of Worms:
Nestled on a bend of the River Rhine, in the South West corner of Germany, is the City of Worms. It’s one of the oldest cities in central Europe; it still has its early city walls, its 11th century Romanesque cathedral and a 500-year-old printing industry, but in its centre is a statue of the monk, heretic and founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther. In 1521 Luther came to Worms to explain his attacks on the Catholic Church to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and the gathered dignitaries of the German lands. What happened at that meeting, called the Diet of Worms, tore countries apart, set nation against nation, felled kings and plunged dynasties into suicidal bouts of infighting.
I thought of Q right away. The story dynamics take on an overly Marxist tone, but unsurprising given the interesting authorship -- Luther Blissett was an Italian writers' collective that professed adherence to socialist principles. They've since made "Luther Blissett" commit literary ritual suicide, added a fifth member and returned as "Wu Ming" with another historical thriller called 54.

Believing that current copyright laws restrict creativity and enrich publishers at the expense of the public, Wu Ming has made their work available online for free, non-commercial use. To them it makes business sense too: if you make the work as widely available as possible at negligible cost, you could improve the chances of someone shelling out money for a copy. Even if readers don't buy a copy, they are more likely to say good things about the work to others i.e. word of mouth advertising. Does it actually work? Consider that hundreds of titles flood bookstores everywhere every month. Bookshelf space is scarce and highly contested. In a competitive market desperate for eyeballs, Wu Ming's approach doesn't seem as crazy.

(Downloading and printing Q out also allowed me to carry around just a couple of pages at any one time, lightening my bag.)

So here you go. Q is apocalyptic and engaging. I downloaded 54 today and have high hopes. You can download both copies off the Wu Ming website. Other than time, ink and paper, what have you got to lose?

Oh yes, and subscribe to In Our Time.

Orhan Pamuk picks up Nobel Prize

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. From the Committee's official statement, Pamuk is a writer
who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.

What are our symbols? Where are our stories?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Came across this in Wallpaper*. I like Timothy Yeoh's Turnover -- a design that tries to replicates some of the more tactile (read: human?) elements of reading, for electronic text. The concept of bookmarking by folding a corner of the electronic paper is so natural I'm surprised it hasn't come up before.

I still like the smell and feel of paper underneath my fingertips though. Fortunately analog paper is still more convenient and commercially viable... for now.

(Pic from Yanko Design)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Before I can edit anything, I'll have to pull the footage off the DV tapes. I tried to batch capture, but didn't realise the timecodes on my tapes were screwy. Should've captured as I played the tape. I have to get faster about this stuff, but even then I think I'll have to clear more weekends for editing.

Japanese fonts

I'm helping friends who are organising an animation festival at the end of the year with some Japanese communications. Before this, I didn't pay too much attention to Asian fonts. SimSun is not ideal for Japanese (some designer's idea of revenge?) -- the katakana and hiragana come out stunted -- so I had to change everything into a Japanese font like MS Gothic.

(So I learnt that MS Mincho and MS Gothic are the Japanese fonts for Windows. The Mac version is Osaka, which probably follows the convention of naming Mac fonts after major cities. Apple doesn't seem to do that anymore though. And Meiryo, which you should look at above, is the new Japanese font for Microsoft's Vista.)


Flipping through the hefty 10th anniversary edition of Wallpaper* last night, I wondered whether Singapore or a Singaporean would be mentioned in that bumper issue.

Well, at least a Singapore jeweller's made the website. Argentum was featured on 10 Oct in the Design section.

Argentum at

About halfway done

I finished all the filming (I think) for my short film on Saturday morning. Now the real pain begins -- editing. I'll be using the iMac G4s at Objectifs even though my filmmaking course has officially ended. The good folks there have, of course, learnt that the majority of students never finish editing their works before the course ends.

Telling people about my short film is the pressure I need to keep going. I'm concerned about rushing the whole thing, of course, but I don't want the project to drag for too long either.

Scheduling editing will be tricky. Hope to get the bulk of the editing done soon before I leave for SF, but work calls and there're so many days I can scrape by with scant sleep. The effects are showing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Penguin covers on Flickr

A photoset of classic Penguin paperback covers on Flickr:

(via BoingBoing)

Picking up Penguin by Design rekindled my interest in book cover design and illustration. Later I would pick up a copy of Type and Typography without realising that both books shared the same author.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Deja lu?

I wonder if Blow-up and Other Stories (earlier post) was later reprinted under a different name? I'm thinking of Bestiary: Selected Stories which I'd previously borrowed from the library here.