Singapore MRT station names as famous brand logos

Singaporean graphic designer Hang Kwong Lim struck internet gold when he transformed the names of all Singapore’s MRT stations into logos resembling those of famous local and international brands.

My first thought was “Hm, that’s interesting…” and my next thought was “Oh, I recognize some of these,” and my doom was “I think I’ll share this with my boyfriend.” The two of us proceeded to spend over three hours together on Skype puzzling them out.

Some answers were really obvious, some were less obvious, some came in a flash of uncanny insight accompanied by a feeling that was equal parts pride and utter mystification in the face of the veiled mysteries of the workings of the human mind. A few of them, I admit, we got by the simple expedient of using Google’s “search by image” feature. I only looked at answers in Facebook comments for the last two, because TBH I didn’t realize the answers were there.

Keep reading for a complete list of answers and my thoughts on this delightful excursion into the world of branding. Visit the Mothership post first if you want to work out the answers on your own!

Continue reading Singapore MRT station names as famous brand logos

Which translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment should I read?

I read the Garnett translation. I was happy with it, to the extent that “happy” is the right word to describe the experience of reading what I found to be a depressing novel, but I did some research on the other available translations, which I have presented in a post on Medium called “Which translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment should I read?”

That post focuses on in-print translations. I count seven in-print translations of thirteen total, listed here:

# Translator Year Publisher
Frederick Whishaw 1885
1. Constance Garnett 1914 Heinemann
David Magarshack 1951 Penguin
Princess Alexandra Kropotkin 1953
Jessie Coulson 1953 Norton
Michael Scammell 1963 Washington Square
2. Sidney Monas 1968 Signet
Julius Katzer 1985 Raduga
3. David McDuff 1991 Viking
4. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky 1992 Knopf
5. Oliver Ready 2014 Penguin
6. Nicolas Pasternak Slater 2017 Oxford
7. Michael R. Katz 2018 Liveright (Norton)

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

The word “mnemonic” has nothing to do with anything in the movie. Nothing. It’s just a weird word that makes the title sound fancy.

As an adjective, “mnemonic” means “aiding or designed to aid the memory” or “relating to the power of memory”. As a noun, it means a special word or poem that helps you recall a set of connected ideas—like “FANBOYS”, which reminds you of seven coordinating conjunctions in English: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

But the premise of Johnny Mnemonic is that the protagonist is carrying data in his head like a drug mule and doesn’t even know what it is! Moreover, he doesn’t remember much about himself; he dumped his memories to make more space to carry data. From the title, I would have guessed he had a special memory skill, but no. He just has a cybernetic upgrade that turned his brain into a (rather faulty) hard drive. He’s nothing special. Might as well be named John Doe.

William Gibson wrote the screenplay as well as the short story of the same name, so the title was his choice, nothing to do with Hollywood. Maybe he picked it because the character wishes he could remember his childhood?

Watch it on Amazon

See below for more on what the movie is like and why I didn’t particularly like it.

Continue reading Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by Constance Garnett

I didn’t particularly like Crime and Punishment… it was third-person omniscient but drifted into unreliable narrator territory because the protagonist is crazy, and you spend a lot of time watching him very closely as he goes around in circles being indecisive. I find his behavior dull at best and really frustrating at times—which is perhaps the point, but it’s unpleasant and rather drawn-out. I think I was expecting more overt philosophy, but there’s only a couple of scattered bits.

I read the Constance Garnett translation of Crime and Punishment. If you are trying to decide on a translation, check out my post over at Medium on which translation of Crime and Punishment you should read.

More on what I liked about the translation and didn’t like about the novel below.

Continue reading Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by Constance Garnett

When and Why I Read Crime and Punishment

I was too tempted by the price! Bought it for 50% off SG$5.89. But according to the rules I've been trying to follow for a couple of years now, if I buy it, I can't just put it aside for another day. Last in, first out. Means I have to read it. So that's what I'm doing!

Genre: Classic Literature (Russian)
Date started / date finished: 28-Mar-20 to 05-Apr-20
Length: 485 pages
ISBN: 9781840224306
Originally published in: 1867/2000
Amazon link: Crime and Punishment

30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary

This book was printed in 1950. It’s in decent condition, although the pages are a little brownish. It has a pleasant smell, like an old library. The content as well as the paper, the fonts, and the typesetting make for a kind of armchair time-traveling experience.

Continue reading 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary

When and Why I Read 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary

My dad dug this book up out of a box in the house. The text was first was published in 1942; my copy is apparently the eighteenth printing (October 1950). I am not the least bit worried about the strength of my vocabulary, but when I opened the book at random and landed on "Seventh Day: Words About Theories", a chapter which defined and explained atheism, agnosticism, fatalism, egoism, altruism, stoicism, chauvinism, jingoism, liberalism, conservatism, and epicureanism, I decided this was perhaps not just another dime-a-dozen book about words. That the book stayed in print until at least the 1970s says something about its enduring appeal.

Genre: Reference (Language)
Date started / date finished: 23-Mar-20 to 29-Mar-20
Length: 242 pages
ISBN:
Originally published in: 1942/1950
Amazon link: 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary

Educated by Tara Westover

I am not practiced in evaluating biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. I don’t often read them. In fact, I only just learned (by asking Google) that the difference between an autobiography and a memoir is that the former generally consists of key facts about a person who just happens to be the author, whereas the latter is more about “emotional truth”.

So what do I think of the emotional truth of Tara Westover’s memoir Educated? I’m not sure. I could go at it one of several ways. Maybe it’s an indictment of a backwards Mormon family. Maybe it’s the story of the triumph of a determined individual over uniquely challenging circumstances. Maybe it’s the literary equivalent of a sordid reality TV-show. Probably it’s a little bit of all those things. See below for more on what I thought of the book and why.

Are there spoilers in the post? Well… memoirs don’t have plot, and you know that Tara became a successful author in the end, so… no. Not really.

Continue reading Educated by Tara Westover

When and Why I Read Educated

I don't usually read memoirs, but people keep talking about this book.

Genre: Memoir
Date started / date finished: 22-Mar-20 to 23-Mar-20
Length: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780099511021
Originally published in: 2018
Amazon link: Educated

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

I’m glad I got The Many Worlds of Albie Bright from the library rather than the book store. Didn’t like it. Why? See below.

If you’re looking for middle-grade science-fiction/fantasy involving physics and a child who goes on a quest to find a lost parent, you can’t go wrong with Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 classic A Wrinkle in Time.

Continue reading The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

When and Why I Read The Many Worlds of Albie Bright

I am reading this for the Middle Grade / Young Adult Fiction Book Club. Even if nobody else is. Borrowed the ebook from the Singapore library system.

Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Date started / date finished: 21-Mar-20 to 22-Mar-20
Length: 176 pages
ISBN: 9781524713584
Originally published in: 2016
Amazon link: The Many Worlds of Albie Bright

Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics by Peter Ladefoged

I know where the book came from, but not how it ended up where it did, in the West Elm home furnishings store in Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia, where along with two other books it was resignedly decorating a console table.

Continue reading Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics by Peter Ladefoged

When and Why I Read Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics

If you have ever doubted the forces of coincidence, doubt no more, for they conspired to an almost inconceivable degree to ensure that I came into the possession of this particular book.

Genre: Linguistics
Date started / date finished: 08-Mar-20 to 21-Mar-20
Length: 111 pages
ISBN: 0226467864
Originally published in: 1971
Amazon link: Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics

Asian Proverbs by FormAsia

When I moved to Singapore in 2008, my then-husband’s employer put us up in a hotel (The Copthorne Orchid, since torn down) while we looked for a place to rent. The hotel ran a shuttle bus to downtown Singapore’s shopping district, Orchard Road. The first time I took the shuttle bus, I alighted, went up and over a pedestrian bridge, walked in a shopping mall, and immediately encountered a bookstore. “I’m going to like this country,” I thought.

That bookstore, San Bookshop, has since closed. So have all the other San Bookshops. So has another bookshop I found at Far East Plaza that day.

However, ANA Book Store is still selling used books on the top floor of Far East Plaza. That’s where I bought Asian Proverbs. It’s also where I got these (October 20, 2018):

All but that bottom one are local books.

Asian Proverbs is a heavy, compact hardcover volume of full-color, glossy pages showcasing 40 sayings from each of 11 different countries and regions: India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tibet, China, The Philippines, Korea, and Japan. The quotations are shown in smoothly translated English and the original language opposite a selection of artworks representing the culture of the country or region. Some of the sayings are rather opaque, while others have a familiar flavor. Most have the ring of truth.

When and Why I Read Asian Proverbs

I bought this book at ANA Book Shop at Far East Plaza.

Genre: Reference
Date started / date finished: 21-Mar-20 to 21-Mar-20
Length: 186 pages
ISBN: 9789889827069
Originally published in: 2011
Amazon link: Asian Proverbs

Need for Speed (2014)

Currently the Rotten Tomatoes rating for Need for Speed is 23% (57% audience score). I can understand why it wasn’t a critical success, but I’m definitely on the side of the audience here.

Watch this movie if…

  • …you like car racing movies.
  • …you like practical special effects (rather than CGI).
  • …you don’t mind a ridiculous premise.
  • …you like happy endings and don’t mind a predictable plot.

Do NOT watch this movie if…

  • …you are tired of The Fast and the Furious franchise.
  • …you hate tropes and are hoping for some literary merit.
  • …your attention span is less than 130 minutes.
  • …you are a pedantic gearhead.

Personally, I don’t mind stories whose plots I can predict. After all, I’ve been trying to become an expert on plot by watching and summarizing movies. What bugs me is when I can predict the dialogue, and this movie didn’t have that problem. A commercially successful movie plot has to have certain elements, but there’s no excuse for stale dialogue. If the characters are going to say something obvious, they may as well say nothing at all.

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Need for Speed (2014)