Pine Crane Prolong Year

I purchased this fine piece of analog pixel art (cross-stitch embroidery) from a Carousell seller named Jess and had it framed by the craftsmen at Barakkath Frame Maker in Chinatown. I’m delighted with it!

The Chinese characters are:

松鹤延年
sōng hè yán nián
pine crane prolong year

Pines and cranes are symbols of longevity. The flowers are a kind of peony (tree peonies, moutans, or mudan). They are medicinal as well as ornamental.

See close-up below.

Continue reading Pine Crane Prolong Year

Buying Books in Singapore 2021

Too much anxiety-inducing news and screentime these last few months, am I right? Grab a chunk of dead tree and travel in your mind to another world, learn a new skill, or come to understand some interesting idea. Your year needs more books. This post will tell you how or where to get them.

See below for lists of:

  • Book Shops at Bras Basah Complex
  • Other Indie Book Shops in Singapore
  • Local Sources for Children’s Books
  • Local Retail Book Chains
  • Local Publishers
  • Local University Book Shops
  • Local Online Booksellers
  • International Online Booksellers
  • Special Book Sales
  • Person-to-Person Websites

Continue reading Buying Books in Singapore 2021

We Love Translations

I am pleased to present the new home of whichever of my posts are dedicated to English translations of books originally written in other languages. Posts on the site also focus on a couple of collections of translations of books across several languages, whatever language they were originally written in, and books about translation, language, and culture in general.

Visit welovetranslations.com!

Movies Watched in 2020

I watched 65 movies in 2020. That sounds like a lot, even for a lockdown / quarantine / stay-at-home kind of year, even for someone with no kids.

On the other hand, I don’t watch television.

Let that sink in.

TV shows add up fast! Movies don’t require the same time commitment. They come in self-contained 90-minute or two-hour chunks. Movie marathons are less likely to occur than TV binge-watching because not every movie is part of a series, and movies don’t tend to end in cliffhangers.

See below for stats and favorites.

Continue reading Movies Watched in 2020

Minority Report (2002)

I like sci-fi movies, and I like Tom Cruise movies, but I don’t like this particular sci-fi Tom Cruise movie, which I just watched for perhaps the second or third time. It’s a murder mystery that thinks it’s sci-fi—a philosophical murder mystery with some annoying CGI and a dash of horror.

See below for more thoughts (no spoilers).

Continue reading Minority Report (2002)

Total Recall (2012) again

The sensibility of this version is different. Totally different. 😉

I like the overall feel of this version better than that of the 1990 movie, but the story is much, much worse. The conflict between the haves and the have-nots doesn’t hold up. The resolution is not one.

I’ve written about Total Recall (2012) before. Here’s what I have to say this time. Beware spoilers.

Continue reading Total Recall (2012) again

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Steven Pinker’s style-guide / usage manual, but it does have a couple of important things to say about written English.

Respect Your Tools
Language has its own internal logic. Good writing respects that logic. Writers should study grammar explicitly rather than rely on intuition in order to communicate clearly, show respect for their readers, and inspire confidence in their work. Good writers are those who read widely enough to absorb good practices from a longstanding written English tradition. They know the rules but also when to break them.

Break the Rules
The Ancient and Venerable English Teachers’ Code—beloved by Grammar Nazis, Prescriptivists, Fussbudgets and Curmudgeons—is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules, and some of the guidelines will lead you astray because (a) Some were written by people who didn’t understand English and (b) Thanks to natural and inevitable language change, the English we use today differs from the English of the past.

See below for more details about what I liked and what I didn’t like about Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style.

Continue reading The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

When and Why I Read The Sense of Style

I bought this a while back. Finally getting around to it.

Genre: writing
Date started / date finished: 22-Nov-20 to 01-Dec-20
Length: 368 pages
ISBN: 9780143127796
Originally published in: 2015
Amazon link: The Sense of Style

Total Recall (1990) again

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the original Total Recall was one of the most expensive movies of its time, and like a lot of movies based on stories by Philip K. Dick, it has an interesting premise. It’s a classic of the sci-fi/action genre and its plot is a lot cleverer than that of the remake, but it’s still too bloody for my taste. Here’s what I wrote about it before.

The Golden Chersonese by Isabella Bird

I wrote a post about The Golden Chersonese for Asian Books Blog.

A paperback edition of The Golden Chersonese was published in 2010 by Monsoon Books. The text is also available free from Gutenberg.org along with various other works by Isabella Bird.
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/393

Bird traveled around the world in the late 1800s, largely unaccompanied. This volume of hers, one among a dozen published works, contains letters describing her experiences in the Malaysian Peninsula, where she traveled after stopping briefly in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore.

Reading the letters without much in the way of added historical context left me feeling somewhat adrift, but the book was worth reading for the strange feeling it gave me of traveling not just in space but in time.

See below for some notes on what makes this travelogue very much of its time and not ours.

Continue reading The Golden Chersonese by Isabella Bird

When and Why I Read The Golden Chersonese

"A nineteenth-century Englishwoman's travels in Singapore and the Malay peninsula."

Genre: travel / Southeast Asia
Date started / date finished: 09-Nov-20 to 23-Nov-20
Length: 352 pages
ISBN: 9789810844844
Originally published in: 1883/2010
Amazon link: The Golden Chersonese