Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
'Sayuri' (from Memoirs of a Geisha)
Aren't they all amazing? I can only imagine the amount of time and effort that went into them.
This will be my last post before I go to L.A. Hopefully I'll be able to blog about my adventures there very soon. See ya!
Friday, August 21, 2009
I'm reminded of the old adage 'never judge a book by its cover'. The bright colours and cartoony illustration on the cover of Life of Pi gave me the impression of a quirky, delightful book. The synopsis certainly sounded quirky: a 16-year old Indian boy trapped on a lifeboat in open sea after a shipwreck, with the company of a Royal Bengal tiger. The contents were actually quite grotesque with Pi descending to a level of primitive savagery and even cannibalism, all described in a graphic manner. Want a taste of it? Here's an excerpt of Pi slaughtering a sea turtle:
"I took hold of a hatchet and brought it down on the turtle's neck, gashing it. Bright red blood shot out. I grabbed the beaker and collected about three hundred millimetres, a pop can's worth... I took a sip. It tasted warm and animal... I drank the blood to the last drop."
I think what gets me is not only the vivid descriptions but the matter-of-fact tone, as if all these are just routine activities and part-and-parcel of life (which they are for Pi). As passive readers sitting at home, we can't help but shift uncomfortably in our seats. Our sympathy for Pi can only extend to a certain point. The fact is, unless we're in the same predicament ourselves, we can't imagine behaving the same way. I don't think I'll be flipping through Life of Pi much. I'm too weak-hearted to stomach the violence depicted, however necessary it is.
I'm drawn to Murakami's writing, however. I find that it has verisimilitude tinged with edginess. His novels seem to contain dark, surreal elements that add another dimension to the real world. There was one part of Sputnik Sweetheart that struck me particularly- the image of a young woman trapped in a Ferris wheel at night, who looked into her own apartment and saw her doppelganger with a man. To me it's a disturbing, surrealistic touch that reveals the inner fears and desires of an individual, and perhaps offers an insight into human nature as well. I'm sufficiently intrigued to want to read Kafka on the Shore now.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Life of Pi
The Time-Traveller's Wife
Kafka on the Shore
Has anyone read any of these books and would like to offer an opinion? I'm thinking of buying one of them to bring on my epic 19-hour flight to Los Angeles (with a transit in between of course). Yup, for your information, I'll be heading there this Sunday for college. I really don't know what it's going to be like but I hope to blog about my adventures there.
You may wonder why I'm taking the trouble to travel to a faraway land for my studies. The thing is, I feel that I won't get any closer to the life I want in future by staying here. I don't just mean career-wise, but also the person I aspire to be and my lifestyle as well. By moving away I'll have the chance to try a new way of life, meet different people, challenge my thinking and start being the 'me' that I want. It's hard to change when you are surrounded by familiar things; it's hard to develop creatively when you don't have the freedom you need. I sense that I need to take an initiative in learning to be independent because it won't happen otherwise.
There are so many things I can do there such as cooking new dishes, incorporating exercise in my life, doing creative writing, drawing and getting back in the water because I once loved to swim. I stopped swimming after developing eczema and strangely, it's a different health problem that got me thinking about it again. I have a mild spinal curvature and was recommended by the doctor to pick up swimming. Maybe it's serendipity. With a fresh start I'll finally have the courage to put in action the things I've always thought of doing.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
I've just been acquainted with Belgian contemporary painter Luc Tuymans. I'm wondering how I could have missed him all this time considering his status as one of Belgium's greatest artists, along with Rubens and Magritte. Possibly the most intriguing aspect of his work is the incorporation of techniques from photography and film, such as cropping, extreme close-ups and desaturation. It's very interesting how his paintings can embody abstract moods and emotions such as melancholy and catharsis. This is partly due to his raw, flat, undemonstrative style of painting, which creates a haziness that obscures the subject.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Luxury connotates wealth and abundance but as Luxirare shows, this is not necessarily the case. Sure, Luxirare owns an array of spiffy, high-tech and no doubt costly home appliances to assist in her food preparation, and her ingredients are top-grade. I'm certain that she uses high-quality fabric for the garments she creates as well. Still, to me luxury comes not from the cost required to upkeep her lifestyle but from the enjoyment and sense of refinement she creates in her life. Her taste and appreciation for finer things like exquisite flavour in food and beautiful, immaculate construction in clothes separate her from vulgarity, and what you get instead is quiet luxury. If you think about it, having a really good dish where the ingredients are fresh and blend together perfectly is a luxury in itself, especially in modern life whereby mediocre-tasting takeouts or fast food is common. Likewise, the feel of a beautiful garment on your skin is magical, particularly if that garment is the only one in the world (as Luxirare's clothes are).
Enough with me talking and on to the visuals. When visiting the page, one is greeted by this bold header which sums up the essence of her blog. Killer clothes and fine cuisine- an intoxicating mix, if you ask me.
Luxirare likes to reinterpret traditional dishes and put her own twist on them. In the most recent post she makes her own version of potato chips: thin wavy strips of potato with flavourings like cilantro, red peppercorn, prosciutto and vanilla seeds embedded in them. If these names are drawing a blank in you, then you definitely need to check out her blog. You'd emerge better informed about gourmet food.
Compared to some other blogs she doesn't update that frequently, but everytime she does it's a real treat. The stunning photography alone will leave you amazed by the detail in food that you've never noticed before. I think the right word here is pornographic. The process is a work of art in itself and the final product always blows my mind. Besides, Luxirare's work is hardly conventional and often avant-garde. Her past creations include a pyramid-shaped pistachio cake and a jacket embossed with names of Michael Jackson's famous songs as a tribute to the music legend.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Here is his design philosophy, quoted from the website:
“A garment can transcend, giving it a soul. I translate fabrics into soft and romantic silhouettes, using natural fabrics like silks and cottons, which are kind to the skin. Distressing fabrics and alchemically treating them, gives the feeling of already ‘being loved’, thus evoking emotion. Even one-off fabrics found in flea markets can be given new life.
Richly embellished fabrics echo Eastern influences, and I have great respect for their traditions. Inspiration can be found from the past – re-using vintage textiles and sometimes creating replicas of them, incorporated with specific craftsmanship. The number of hours someone has spent on manual work like this makes it priceless. I see craftsmanship as an implement with which to realise one’s vision. Past, present and future; that slogan continues in almost everything around which my work evolves. Timeless beauty and femininity in my design is profound, in a way for the wearer to express their inner soul.”
Two of my favourite looks from his S/S 09 collection:
I must credit my discovery of Akira to fashion blogger Brigadeiro. She religiously wears clothes from Akira and Dries van Noten (one of my favourite labels) with aplomb. Even her wedding dress is from Akira- it's absolutely beautiful and refreshingly different from conventional bridal designs. Here it is pictured below:
Isn't the soft, flowy silhouette and the applique detail just lovely? Too often bridal gowns make the wearer look fussy and uncomfortable, whereas this one is unrestrained and natural. I also love the flash of red at the bottom which adds drama and romance. In my opinion, it looks even better on Brigadeiro. The red dresses of her bridesmaids accentuated the colour of the hem nicely.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The pajama party that the central characters (who live on the same floor of an apartment) have almost every night in the common area outside their units.
The indoor swimming pool. With its modern fittings and panoramic night view, it's simply SURREAL.
Usami + Airu. What can I say, they're really cute together.
Yukichi's dress sense! The combination of his geek glasses with velvet jackets, funky-coloured pocket hankies, striped bow ties etc. is deliciously wacky.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Swam water for time
Searching places to find
A piece of something to call mine...'
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It was only when I slipped into the water did I realize how much I'd missed the sensation. As a young girl, I used to swim every week until I was hit with a serious bout of eczema. The water was torturous on my raw, weeping skin so I had to give it up. It was never the same after that. Even when my eczema went away, I found it hard to get back in the water. Somehow you develop a block to things you've stopped doing for a long time.
No doubt my swimming skills have become rusty, but I still enjoy the calming effect that water has on me. I love to float on my back and close my eyes. That swim allowed me to release all the stress I've been feeling lately and the coolness was delightful in the hot weather. I found myself thinking, "I should do this again sometime." The subsequent soak in the jacuzzi was great as I'd never been in one before. As I rested my head on the edge of the jacuzzi, I could see the newly-risen moon through the bushes. I thought about my life.
It's strange that there's stress in my life now. When I was schooling, stress was of a different nature, and somehow good. Stress came from rushing to obtain good grades and meet deadlines, and that was fulfilling in a way as it prompted me to work hard and produce results. Now, stress comes from the anxieties I feel about going to college, which are often caused by what others say. I'm constantly overwhelmed by the negativity of my mother, who doesn't seem to have a single positive thing to say about me going to college. The problem in our relationship is a lack of balance. She doles out critiscism but doesn't give praise. I often think to myself, "You're hardly even home to talk to us and this is what you choose to say?" This is invariably something negative.
This situation is nothing compared to what has happened between me and my aunt. I'm shocked at the extent to which prejudice can blind people. It's not as if I'm a total stranger to her. Honestly, I'm not so much angry as hurt at her judgement of my character. I can forgive, but I don't think I can ever forget her words. I don't think I can ever talk to her again, knowing what she has said behind my back.
You know what they say about not letting yourself be surrounded by people who make you feel inferior? But what happens if those people are your family or relatives?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
These two paintings by Aya Takano have a whimsical flair that I enjoy, featuring dangling beanpole-like girls set against quintessentially Japanese city or suburban backdrops. The cartoon-ish air is characteristic of the Superflat style to which Takano subscribes.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Anrealage is a Japanese label established in 2003 by a graduate of Waseda University. His F/W 09 collection pictured above, named '凹 凸' (which means concave and convex respectively), is conceptual yet surprisingly wearable. Each piece of clothing can be stretched to fit a certain configuration of rectangular shapes. When removed and placed on a human form, the excess volume drapes nicely to create a new silhouette. What an ingenious idea.