Saturday, July 31, 2010

A matter of perspective

I am not a very artistic person; the only time I ever got an A for art class was because my group member drew the project and we all slapped paint on it. However, I have always enjoyed paintings and like the saying goes, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."
Periodically I go to the National Art Gallery to look at the exhibits. I love the works of Abdul Latif Maulan; his work has a viscerality and intensity that imbues his subject with a larger-than-life energy. I am particularly fond of his tepak sireh series; they evoke a nostalgia of a time long gone and elucidates Malay sensibilities and culture beautifully.

An artist captures a moment, a thought, an emotion, a memory in his/her artwork. A skilled artist can present it in such a way that an untrained audience can appreciate the message conveyed in the piece and it enriches their experience. The plebeian me only appreciate art that is clear; i.e. abstract paintings and sculptures hold little interest for me.
The subject matter in art is a matter of personal preference. Human or animal figurines, still life and landscapes can tell a complex story with nuance and dimension that is both proffered by the artist as well as imposed by the viewer themselves. If the art resonates with you, the experience can transcend your sensory memories and invoke emotion and passion.

War art is not new; it is a popular subject and theme for artists since the development of cave paintings. Classical paintings in Europe often portrays war scenes from historical battles. I was introduced to this idea from my favourite Mary Jo Putney book, River of Fire. The only difference between the war art in the classical painting and what we see now is the diversity of artistic media available; from oils, chalk, water colour to digital photography.

I find the idea of capturing the experience of war using art intriguing. The US Marines and US Navy have artists in their ranks who are deployed in wars, carrying art supply along with their heavy packs. A mini view of the Navy art gallery as well as the Marine combat art is available online.

Illustrating war provides a very intimate view of the combatants; telling stories that would otherwise be watered down or distorted by the media. It helps to humanise the combatants and to underscore the humanity (or lack of) of the all of the engaged parties. I don't know if anyone who look at these images and still see war as romantic; to me they underscore the price that are paid by both the combatants as well as the non-combatants in the conflict.

Will art help to make an unpopular war more palatable or a popular one more acceptable in general? I don't know. Michael D Fay and Kristopher Battles are two Marine artists who capture the engagements in which they participated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their work is beautiful, even as the theme and subjects can provoke strong negative emotions.
Sgt. Battles and Chief Warrant Officer (Rtd.) Fay offer us another facet to the war that is often contemptuously dismissed, particularly by opponents of the American occupation.

Frankly, I think the American occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan accomplished little of what they set out to do; it is unlawful and a gross violation of human rights and national sovereignty. I
do wish that the American troops will withdraw from both countries and let the Iraqis and Afghan people rebuild as they see fit. If they are wont to kill one another without an occupying force "maintaining peace", by all means let them. These are lands that have not seen peace without an iron fist; their people are not ready for the American brand of democracy, as well meaning as those tenets are. It is doubtful that the occupation actually helps to reduce terrorism in the world. However, the hidden strings being pulled and people benefiting from this atrocity that is paid with blood and pain on both sides of the conflict means that there is no easy way out of it.

This is beautifully illustrated by Dark Side of the Sun by the glorious Tori Amos.

Let us all work towards peace for everyone.

To know me is to love me? Biblio edition meem.

I snagged this from an LJ friend (the lovely pwcorgigirl who shows fabulous grace in the face of much adversity).

Crossposted at LJ and FB. Just sharing some of my reading habits.*grin*

Damn right I want to save some naked women.

1. Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

No. I read when I snack, not snack while I read (if you get my meaning).

2. What is your favorite drink while reading?

None. I often am too engrossed to bother.

3. Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I love to abuse my textbooks! Colourful lines, rude comments on the margins, the lot. But my storybooks are off-limits. No pencil, no pen although you may find the odd lipstick marks when I nod off and accidentally kiss the book *blush*.

However, I would love to chop off the hands of people who write, underline etc in library books. Hello? Not your personal possession. Other people want to read it too and nobody wants to read your illiterate scribblings.

4. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ear? Laying the book flat open?

Commonly a book mark or laying the book face down (I try not to break the spine, though). I keep cardboard pieces for this purpose; nice bookmarks often disappear when you need them the most.

5. Fiction, Non-Fiction, or Both?

Mostly fiction. I read obsessively what interests me at the time, be it Persian history, Lalique or even social issues on pornography. But I do like my non-fiction with lots of pictures; especially coffee table art books.

Used to borrow books from the library and force my Mum to read them and give me the CliffNotes condensed version of them.

6. Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I prefer to go to the end of a chapter, but can stop anywhere.

7. Are you a person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Oh yes. On the floor; but mostly I whack my mattress with it. I do hold books dearly, even those that I loathe.

Non-fiction book that I've tossed: haematology textbook and the AABB blood banking manual (no wonder I could never get more than a C or C+ for it).

Fiction: The last book in Pullman's His Dark Materials series. I felt cheated to discover the culmination of an interesting series to be nothing but a rant against the Church. Give me back the time I wasted, dammit!

8. If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

I try to figure out what it means from the context in which it was used. If it bugs me enough, I dig for the dictionary.

9. What are you currently reading?

Unperfect Souls by Mark del Franco. Delish!

10. What is the last book you bought?

Sandman Slim - Richard Kadrey
Some orchid growing thingie for my Mum.
I usually rent or borrow what I read, since books are pricy. I have wonderful suppliers (my cousin and friends, you know who you are). I usually buy books for my Mum and my niece; I do go nuts during book warehouse sale though.

11. Are you a person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

One book at a time. I can read more than one but it leaches away my enjoyment.

12. Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

I like to read on the swing in the garden, though it means sacrificing a few microlitres of blood to the mozzies.

I read practically everywhere; while queuing, eating, stuck in a jam etc. The prefects used to scold me for reading while walking back to class from recess time. In my defense, I have never tripped or bump into anyone/anything while I do so.

13. Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?

I love both. I would follow a series by an author I love obsessively; I rec the series by Carrie Vaughn, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mark del Franco, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, JD Robb and Simon R Green. I find urban (and non-urban but contemporary) fantasy to make the best type of series to follow. If you like the way the 'verse is shaped, you will want more.

14. Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Contemporary romance: Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie.

Historical romance: Lisa Kleypas, Amanda Quick, Christina Dodd, Loretta Chase

Supernatural/paranormal romance: Shana Abe, Susan Krinard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, MaryJanice Davidson

Futuristic/fantasy: JD Robb, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Emma Bull, Elizabeth Vaughn

Urban fantasy: Mark del Franco, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs, Simon R Green, Jim Butcher

Feminist theorist: Fatima Mernissi, Amina Wadud

15. How do you organize your books? By genre, title, author's last name, etc?

By size and space. I am *not* an organised person.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are ... ?

It is amazing the things people do in the name of research. It is also amazing the things people study in the name of research.

Nicolas Gueguen begun publishing in 2000 stuff that we already know; except that he included a proper hypothesis, experiment and detailed the outcome mathematically (the way a good scientist would).

For example:

1. Women with bigger boobs get more male attention.

2. That romantic songs puts a woman in a mood to say yes.

3. Waitresses who wear makeup get more tips.

4. That women in their fertile phase are also more likely to say yes to a guy.

Gratuituous Angelina Jolie shot for the gents.

You gotta admire a man who is systematically and mathematically profiling factors that influence men-women interaction. Especially when met with lame pick up lines, women are more wont to be doing this:

Vive le sciences et recherche!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not proselytising!

I love this man. I do. I'd offer myself to be his second wife, but I don't think he'd want such a heathen like myself. *grin*

Any number of my friends have been the unfortunate listener to my rants of the deficiencies of religious scholarship in my country; particularly the religious teachers in schools who are fond of damning and hellfire. But it is scholars like Imam Faisal, Dr Mohd Asri (although I may disagree with some of his politics)and Dr Amina Wadud who gave me hope that my beautiful faith can be interpreted most beautifully and inclusively, the way it is meant to be.

Another word for a hissy fit

debacchate (v.)

To rage or rave as a bacchanal. Hence debacchation.

After watching Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, I threw a debacchation that could be heard three doors over.

*shakes fist at George Lucas*

Monday, July 19, 2010

On skiving

Shirk : verb ‘To avoid work, duties or responsibilities, especially if they are difficult or unpleasant.’ [source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary ]

The Japanese are renowned for their insane work ethics and dedication to duty. Is it any surprise that they would be the ones to publish a paper on professional skiving? Mathematically eludicated, mind you.

Another work week begins

The horror!

Oh noes!!!!

Oh, if only ...

Science fiction is no longer fiction.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Iz serious biznes, hokay?

Business Time by Flight of the Conchords is kinda like Marvin Gaye meets Steve Carel.

Trippy and soulful ... but sex-ay?

You decide.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Looking for that special someone? Have no clue where to start? Think that the Internet is the answer to your prayers?

According to Dan Ariely (he teaches behavioural economics at MIT), online dating is not the best way to meet people if you are looking for something permanent.

Oh dear.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A rose by any other name ...


A public lavatory in France.

The vespasienne, although beautifully named, is not always a wonderful place to visit.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Give me something for the pain!

wheeple (v. & n.)

intr. To utter a somewhat protracted shrill cry, like the curlew or plover; also, to whistle feebly (intr. and trans.). So wheeple (n.).

The force of the projectile smashing his groin was such that Ian wheepled like a boiling kettle before collapsing to his knees, clutching himself. Faint sounds of retching could be heard soon after.

Yes, I know, smashed balls are not funny. No, I lied. They are funny as hell.

Don't believe me? Just watch the Three Stooges.

Monday, July 5, 2010


(1) Feasting, banqueting, ‘riotous eating’ (Blount). (2) Eating together.

Fasting month is around the corner; let the comessation begin!