Posts Tagged ‘review’

Madame de Marelle

Friday, March 7th, 2014


I finished the novel Mahrem by Elif Şafak the other day (apparently it’s been translated to English, but according to the reviews, not very well) and was inspired to draw this little scene from the story. I enjoyed the vividness and grotesqueness of some of the imagery, the “seeing and being seen” theme that dominated the book, and the way it all tied together in the end. I have so many new perspectives on things now, and so the book has climbed to one of my favorites by this Turkish author.

Now, a little bit about the drawing. The point wasn’t to create a masterpiece; rather, it was something to occupy my time and get me to play with shapes and colors while I listened to an online lecture for about an hour. No furniture, no shadows, no details; too lazy for all that. Give me a break; I haven’t drawn anything substantial in years, so I consider this just a sketch and a half-success. Anything that moves me enough to make me draw these days is something that comes close to a miracle.

I will update with a higher resolution version once I can access a scanner in the next few weeks.

Wood & Vine

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

I’m breaking my blogging silence with the description of an amazing dinner I had about two weeks ago. I can’t stop thinking about it still, but the details are escaping me, so I’d better write it down already.
I had some time to kill before I met up with a group of friends for a Book of Mormon showing at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, so I stepped into a fancy looking farm-to-table restaurant and treated myself to a delicious solo meal.

I had:
– Their special Cabernet of the day,
– Hand-cut seasoned fries,
– A salad with arugula, mint, pomegranates, candied pecans, and honey vinaigrette,
– Sorbet made with fresh grape, pears, and orange, drizzled with fresh local honey.

The meal was so simple, but the flavors were so delicate and satisfying. And now it is captured forever on the Internet.

Wood & Vine

It took me a few hours to realize that the name is a play on words for the nearest intersecting streets, Hollywood and Vine. But shhhhh…..

Sandwich Rant

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

What the heck is this? I thought I ordered a sandwich, not an overstuffed baguette taco. How am I supposed to eat this? Does the assembler not know the function the bread serves in a sandwich? What is the point of lining up tomatoes and sprinkling lettuce on TOP (i.e. theoretically, THE SIDE) of the sandwich? Wouldn’t it simply fall off as soon as I align the sandwich the proper way by rotating it 90 degrees? Gravity, HELLO. If I ate the sandwich the way it is pictured, the bread would open up and the entire sandwich would roll open as soon as I bit down on it, making it an extremely wide open-faced sandwich. Do they expect me to rotate my head 90 degrees to the side to be able to eat the sandwich and keep it folded? In addition, the bread only covers 2/3 of the circumference of the cross section. Once I bite, it’s all going to burst out the top. Do they expect me to restrain the filling by pressing it down with my hand? What’s the point of having bread, then? Just make it a burrito! I would have liked to go back, give the sandwich back to whoever made it, and make him eat it in front of me. But alas, I ate it all already.

So Jealous.

Monday, April 4th, 2011

During my intense marathon of reading through and tagging all 10 years of my blog posts a few months ago, I noticed that I did not mention MIT once here since graduating almost four years ago. This came as a shock to me, because I’m still quite involved with the Institvte by serving as a volunteer (secretary, specifically) in our local alumni club. I’ve also visited MIT three times since graduation.

2011 is a special year for MIT, as it is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Institute. The sesquicentennial is being celebrated over several months with festivals, symposia, and various events, collectively called MIT150. And here I am, sitting in Los Angeles, drooling over all the events and cursing my life for not being in Boston right now.

The event that is making me salivate the most is FAST: Festival of Art, Science, and Technology, which spans three months. Yes, MIT does have arts, and even music majors, of which I was one. The item of most interest is the New Music Marathon on April 15th, which, regrettably, I can’t make. Guys, this concert is THE CONCERT OF MY DREAMS. It is a five-hour marathon of new music, with Kronos Quartet, Bang-on-a-Can, Wu Man, Gamelan Galak Tika, and MIT Chamber Chorus! When else in life is the world going to be blessed with such a lineup?! I seriously considered buying plane tickets to Boston just to make that concert and fly back the following morning, but, alas, it is on the same day as a special person’s birthday, and I have to perform in a choir concert that weekend. I also just visited Boston not even a month ago, so I thought it might be a bit of a waste. After weeks of suffering through the painful decision process, I’ve managed to let it go. Could they have it as a webcast?! My, that would be lovely.

I mentioned that I was in Boston recently. While there, I did catch one FAST concert, the Language of Music concert on March 5th. This concert was a special treat, because the program was comprised of compositions entirely by MIT music professors I had studied under. Justin and I enjoyed ourselves immensely as we explored the beautifully distinct styles of each of our ex-professors. I was glad to find out that they still remember me, too. I’d like to think of it as a consolation prize for not being able to make the April 15th concert. Please excuse me while I go into my corner and sulk some more.

Professor Bad Trip sharings

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I went to an amazing concert on Monday, and hopefully the first of many. A friend of mine turned my attention to the Monday Evening Concerts series, which is a non-profit organization that has been featuring new music since 1939 (and made premieres of some big-name composers such as Boulez, Stravinsky, Bartók, Schoenberg and Ives).

I went to the concert alone, and just in the nick of time! I left work at 7:00 (was shooting for 5:00, but I was engrossed in work), made it Downtown by 7:30, and had parked my car by 7:40, which left me time to buy and gobble up a tiny turkey sandwich (which I embellished with hot sauce and black pepper) and even read all the program notes.

The concert was entitled “Professor Bad Trip,” named after the work by Fausto Romitelli that made up the second half of the concert, and featured the Argento Chamber Ensemble. The program was truly eye- and mind-opening and can be found here.

Alas, I could not find YouTube videos for all of the featured music, but here is a smattering… (more…)


Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Skull of a 20-24 year-old woman.

Yesterday my mom and I went to an archeological lecture about an excavation in Domuztepe, Turkey, given by Dr. Elizabeth Carter. Her main focus was a mysterious burial site, fondly referred to as the Death Pit.

The Death Pit was believed to be a result of a ritual performed over the course of a week or two in around 6500 B.C., which involved killing, feasting on, and burying the bones of numerous animals and humans. Evidence suggested that the killings and butcherings were performed in a systematic fashion, and the feasting involved cannibalism. About 9000 bones were excavated, a third of which belonged to animals, a third of which belonged to humans (totaling 36 humans that were related to each other), and a third of which was unidentified.

The human killings were performed by bludgeoning the heads with a blunt object, as evidenced by fractures and gaping holes in the excavated skulls. Some of the humans were decapitated, and many of them were of prime age (adolescents or in their twenties or thirties). The apparent “value” of these citizens leads the archeologists to believe that this ritual’s purpose was to make a sacrificial offering.

The more I heard about the findings, the more morbidly curious I became about this strange society from 8000 years ago. For instance, one image was the skeleton of a decapitated 6-year-old and the skull of a pig near where his head should have been. There were also pottery and figurines that featured headless humans. What the heck were they doing over there?! It is so ridiculous that we will never know. I’ve often wondered what kinds of things future archeologists would be baffled by from our time.

Reading up on it later, I found this Open Context Page for Domuztepe, which displays most of the artifacts that were found in the excavation project. The image above is the skull of a 20-24 year-old woman that I found on the site.


Saturday, November 13th, 2010

An overwhelming number of people voted for me to blog more about the books I’m reading. In fact, it’s apparently the number one thing people want to hear about. Maybe people chose that option because they were intrigued; what does a girl who writes about herself all the time read? Does she ever stimulate herself intellectually, or is her mind constantly flooded with thoughts of pigeons and food like we suspect? Well, I read 5 to 10 books a year. If I were a fast reader, I would definitely get a lot more in.

I had brought books with me to read on vacation, but I browsed through my grandparents’ bookshelf for a spontaneous read instead. I ended up picking up a copy of Tolstoy’s The Resurrection that my mother had read the summer when she was sixteen years old (signed and dated).

I tend to opt for Turkish translations of books that weren’t originally written in English, if there is one available. I won’t be reading it in the original language anyway, so I might as well sharpen my Turkish in the meantime.

So, enough about how the book looks and smells. I was drawn into the story from the first few pages, which starts off with a heart-wrenching story of long-lost lovers. What I thought was particularly beautiful was that Tolstoy described so perfectly the motivations of each person for why they do the things they do. The part where Nehludof (spelled Nehlüdof in Turkish) had sort of a revelation – as if waking up from a horrible nightmare and realizing that he had lived his life in the wrong way in the past few years, and how he could have been so blind – had a striking effect on me. Once he realized his disgust with his current lifestyle of excess, luxury, and deceit, he had to fight against the urge to slump into it again, because it was so alluring. I was dragged into their psychological state, wanting to read on with a glimmer of hope but the gut feeling that there is no way that it could work out. In these moments the only thing to do is to read the book as fast as possible so that you’ll get over the suspense.
Starting in the middle of the book and towards the end, the warm and fuzzy feeling dissipated, as the focus shifted more to a criticism of Russian bureaucracy and prison systems. The story dissipated with it as well. In the end, it came to a point where there really was no happy or sad ending, but it didn’t even matter what happened. In my opinion, that was the best possible ending.

Enough of pigeons; let’s talk music.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I’m not sure why I deprived myself of two particular albums for the better half of this year- oh, I know, why: sheer laziness. Well, yesterday I couldn’t stand it anymore and purchased the two albums I’d been dying to hear for months.

1. Earl Greyhound – Suspicious Package. Earl Greyhound was one of the opening bands for an Ok Go concert I’d gone to a couple months ago; it was the first time I’d seen or heard of them, and I was mesmerized by their performance (especially after the mediocre opening act that they had followed). The group consists of three members, with two singers: an alto and tenor, whose voices blended perfectly as they rocked out and belted out their songs while harmonizing perfectly in tune. Their songs were catchy, full of energy, dark, and NOT fluffy. These people were serious about rocking out! It had been a while since I’d heard a rock band that I actually liked.
I can’t help but mention that I love the memorable band name, too. Their website has a streaming version of their full new album, so no need for me to post previews here. My favorite songs are Shotgun, Holy Immortality, Eyes of Cassandra.

2. Ryoji Ikeda0°C. I had a few Ryoji Ikeda mp3s when took electronic music classes in college. It was mentioned that he was a highly respected electronic composer of his time. His music sounds like a bunch of beeps and clicks on the surface, but it is all so expertly synthesized. He’s one of my favorite composers of all time. Anyway, I was driving home after a night shift one day last November, when my Pandora radio station started playing Continuum. It jarred me at 6:00 in the morning – the high-pitched tones being alternated in the left and right speakers while I was already in a drowsy and half-dreamy state of mind – as I was a few blocks away from home. I sat and listened to previews of all the pieces on that album and was blown away with excitement and inspiration. I told myself I’d buy it immediately, but it took me six months to actually get around to doing it. Last night I finally did it. Pure ear candy!

Systematic Music Discovery

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

I’m finally starting up a systematic process to discover and acquire new music. This was a long process in the making, and began about a year ago when I started weeding through my entire iTunes library and deleting and categorizing the music I already have. Now I am ready to start building on it.

I have several tools to help me remember what pieces I like best:

  • 1. Notebook. I always carry it with me, and quickly jot down the name of the piece.
  • 2. tobedownloaded.txt – A text file where I maintain a list of songs I like for downloading later. This is usually when I’m listening to online radios at home and the information is readily available.
  • 3. Shazam (iPhone app). This one is awesome when I’m in a public place, like a coffeeshop or restaurant, because I can take out my phone and send a little snippet of the music to retrieve the title and artist (if it’s in the database). The best part is that the app can identify the song despite background noise, like people talking loudly in a restaurant.
  • 4. Nabbit (iPhone app). This app is great for when I’m listening to the radio and want to make note of a song I’m listening to. I use this mainly when I’m listening to KJazz while I drive to and from work. My jazz collection is quite small, so I wish to expand it.

I then consolidate all my findings in tobedownloaded.txt and buy them off of iTunes.

Jazz is my main focus of the musical discovery efforts, but I will share my jazz findings in a later post. Today, I will talk of new pieces I’ve bought to add to my “chill” playlist – yes, you guessed it: a playlist of downbeat electronic music.

  • Keston and Westdal – Vaccine: I admit it, I’m a sucker for string instruments in “songs.” This one has a light feel to it and makes me think of lemon sorbet.
  • Xela – Japanese Whispers: This one reminds me of Pattern’s Patterns by Paul Lansky and granular synthesis methods I learned in electronic music class in college. I love how cleanly the phonemes are dissected out.
  • Plaid – Light Rain: I like the little sounds in this one.
  • Zero 7 – Destiny: I still can’t remember if I Shazam’d this track because I wanted it, or because I was testing out Shazam. Generic downbeat electronica chord progressions and sound. However, I kind of like the melodic line. After I bought the song, I was repulsed by a section of parallel fifths towards the end. Many of my favorite composers would have turned in their graves. Too bad I can’t get a refund, so I might as well keep it. It does fit in nicely with the playlist.
  • Jon Hassell – Last Night the Moon Came: I Shazam’d this song during a modern dance performance I went to last night. The artist’s name sounded familiar. I then remembered that I saw Jon Hassell in concert in February 2009 in an electronic music concert. This fact was confirmed by taking a peek in my concert program collection; I’ve been saving programs from all the concerts I’ve gone to in the past decade in my file cabinet. HAH! See? I knew it’d be useful someday.

On another vein, I also recently downloaded Roy Harris’s Piano Quintet. I heard this on KUSC (our local classical music radio) on the way home from work on a rainy afternoon. I liked it so much that I sat in my car for fifteen minutes, waiting for it to finish so I could turn off the car and go home. This piece has just the kind of sonority that I like in modern chamber music.

There you go. Expert musical criticism from a person with a music major degree. Seriously, though, this is just a start. I’ll have more substantial musical purchases to blog about in future posts.

sting and dowland

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Today I found the article Sting’s ‘Labyrinth’: 16th Century Pop Music through a Renaissance music blog. Apparently, Sting made an album of John Dowland songs last year as a tribute to the Elizabethan composer.

The blog had linked to one of the songs in the album, and I was a bit disappointed upon hearing it. Like all the other songs in the album, it solely consisted of Sting’s voice and the lute (Dowland’s instrument), and I didn’t think that they complemented each other very well.

I went on iTunes music store, listened to previews of the songs, and read some of the reviews. There were two groups of people who wrote reviews: Sting fans and Dowland fans.
Most of the Sting fans gave the album five stars, because they loved Sting’s voice, and were pleased with the exotic lute music to which they weren’t accustomed.
People who had already listened to other Dowland recordings weren’t satisfied at all, and wrote that this isn’t how Dowland should be performed, and that Sting’s singing was very bad.
There was a third group of people who loved both Sting and Dowland, and thought that Sting did the music justice and also introduced Dowland to listeners who usually don’t listen that type of music.

I’m a Dowland fan, and not a Sting fan, and I personally didn’t love the recordings. But, I didn’t dislike them because Sting sings them in the pop style – in fact, I thought it was great that he interpreted them in his own style. What annoyed me was that the classical lute accompaniment didn’t mesh with the pop style at all. Sting’s singing and the lute part sound good separately, but they conflict when put together. Sting’s singing style crushes the delicate sound of the lute, in my opinion. It would have sounded better over electronic guitars.

I think that if Sting wanted to bring a more modern feel to the songs, he might have arranged the accompaniment for a pop band. In fact, I think Dowland’s pieces would sound awesome as rock songs or alternative music. Sting’s interpretation of Dowland songs still makes them sound like “old” music. I think Dowland would have found it appropriate to keep the melodies and harmonies of the songs intact, but have it performed with whatever instruments that are popular at the time.

Sting should have gone that extra step. Then I would have been happy. The CD looks pretty cool, actually, because Sting reads some excerpts from Dowland’s personal correspondences as well to paint a biographical portrait of him.

Listen to Sting’s version of “Can She Excuse My Wrongs.”