Archive | October, 2008

The Hand That Feeds

29 Oct

To me, November is a month that underlines the importance of a lasting relationship. My parents have their anniversary at the 3rd, while me and my wife have ours eight days later. Every time it gets to this time of the year, I cannot help but stop what I am doing, close my eyes, and pray that I will make my marriage last as long as I can. Oh, it’s not that we are having some marital problems or something. It’s just that I don’t know how much longer I have to live.

What I want to talk about is my parents’ marriage. They are still there, standing strong after about 35 years of marriage. It has been bumpy, – even bruising at some points. Yet they refuse to let go of each other and holding steadfastly to their other halves instead. This echoes the important trait which sadly is seen less and less nowadays : perseverance.

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I do not have any right to elaborate on details on their trials and tribulations over the years. It will always be their authoritative decision about what is free to share and what is not. What I can tell you is their difficult experience with me as a young man.

My life was indeed unusual. To cite a few examples, I struggled with addiction in the past, have several troubles with the authority, and almost died more than three times. I was flirting with the devil himself. As I grow older, it became easy for me to imagine that an ordinary parent would at least consider to disown such insolent son. But mine is anything but ordinary.

This short post is then a dedication for them. In this anniversary of theirs, let it be known to world that I bow my head down in respect. I am not doing it to a long-suffering couple. I am not doing it to an everlasting love. I am doing it to a pair of fighter who knows no surrender. To a pair of hands that fed us the children come good or bad times. I love you, Mom and Dad… !

P.S. : This post was inspired by a song of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds”. I am tagging Nindya and Leonnie FM to write on any topic from the list, you both know what to do ( see my previous post )

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100 Most Interesting Song Titles : A Blog Creative Writing Workshop

29 Oct

The idea hit me when I was organizing my music library folder the other day. Stumbling on songs I didn’t know I had, I quickly realized that there are lot of interesting titles in the world of music. It certainly is not short of muses, – musically and literally. So without further ado, here are 100 of the most interesting song title I ever found ( in no particular order ) :

  1. “Animal I Have Become” – 3 Days Grace
  2. “Almost Lover” – A Fine Frenzy ( Kembang claimed this one )
  3. “Super Trooper” – ABBA
  4. “Sink the Pink” – AC/DC
  5. “Goody Two Shoes” – Adam Ant
  6. “Chasing Pavements” – Adele
  7. “Summer Shudder” – AFI
  8. “…. But Home is Nowhere” – AFI
  9. “Bleed Black” – AFI
  10. “Eye in The Sky” – Alan Parsons Project
  11. “Uninvited” – Alanis Morrisette
  12. “Black Velvet” – Alannah Myles
  13. “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M. ( taken by Arisaja )
  14. “Them Bones”- Alice In Chains
  15. “Metalingus” – Alter Bridge
  16. “House of The Rising Sun” – Animals
  17. “Ghost In My Machine” – Annie Lennox
  18. “D is for Dangerous” – Arctic Monkeys
  19. “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” – Bananarama
  20. “Send a Moses” – Barrington Levy
  21. “The Cousin of Death” – Beastie Boys
  22. “Cellphone’s Dead”- Beck
  23. “I Plead Insanity” – Belinda Carlisle
  24. “When I Think About You I Touch Myself”- Blondie
  25. “Bed of Roses” – Bon Jovi
  26. “Hedonistic Me”- Born Ruffians
  27. “Water Runs Dry”- Boyz II Men
  28. “Jack the Ripper” – Buckethead
  29. “Gonna Make You Sweat”- C+C Music Factory
  30. “Vulgar Before Me” – Candlebox
  31. “It’s Hard To Be Tender” – Carly Simon
  32. “Mulder & Scully” – Catatonia
  33. “Galileo” – Indigo Girls
  34. “In Dust We Trust” – Chemical Brothers
  35. “Sunshower” – Chris Cornell
  36. “Dip It Low” – Christina Millian
  37. “Should I Stay or Should I Go ?” – The Clash ( unavailable, claimed by Leonnie FM )
  38. “Fix You” – Coldplay ( unavailable, claimed by Alfa )
  39. “Life Despite God” – Courtney Love
  40. “Zombie” – Cranberries
  41. “I Just Died In Your Arms” – Cutting Crew
  42. “The Man Who Sold The World” – David Bowie
  43. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
  44. “Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode
  45. “Life For Rent” – Dido ( taken by NotAMeanGirl )
  46. “Long Train Runnin’” – Doobie Brothers
  47. “System of Survival” – Earth, Wind & Fire
  48. “Fields of Gold” – Sting
  49. “Hole-Hearted” – Extreme
  50. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
  51. “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama” – Frank Zappa
  52. “Afterglow” – INXS
  53. “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” – Garbage ( unavailable, claimed by Nana )
  54. “Invisible Touch” – Genesis
  55. “Wonderlust King” – Gogol Bordello
  56. ‘”Eat Yourself” – Goldfrapp
  57. “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” – Great White
  58. “Maneater” – Hall & Oates
  59. “Love Autopsy” – Hugh Grant
  60. “Megalomaniac” – Incubus
  61. “Suicide Blonde” – INXS
  62. “Naked As We Came” – Iron & Wine ( claimed by Rima Fauzi )
  63. “Mediocre Bad Guys” – Jack Johnson
  64. “Virtual Insanity” – Jamiroquai ( Nindha has taken this one )
  65. “Wordplay” – Jason Mraz
  66. “Curbside Prophet” – Jason Mraz
  67. “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” – Kaiser Chiefs
  68. “Mouthful of Poison” – Kittie
  69. “Freak on a Leash” – Korn ( taken by Toni “Neofreko” )
  70. “We Are the Robots” – Kraftwerk
  71. “Destroy Everything You Touch” – Ladytron
  72. “The Battle of Evermore” – Led Zeppelin
  73. “Points of Authority” – Linkin Park
  74. “Selling the Drama” – Live ( unavailable, claimed by Treespotter )
  75. “Walk on the Wild Side” – Lou Reed
  76. “Die Another Day” – Madonna ( unavailable, claimed by Nindya )
  77. “Something’s Jumpin’ In Your Shirt” – Malcolm McLaren
  78. “If I Was Your Vampire” – Marilyn Manson
  79. “Angel With the Scabbed Wings” – Marilyn Manson
  80. “I Got Money Now” – Pink
  81. “Toy Soldiers” – Martika
  82. “Butterfly Caught” – Massive Attack
  83. “Till the Cops Come Knockin’” – Maxwell
  84. “Of Wolf and Man” – Metallica
  85. “Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum
  86. “Dirty Diana” – Michael Jackson
  87. “Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson
  88. “Hand to Mouth” – George Michael
  89. “Beds are Burning” – Midnight Oil
  90. “Atlantis is Calling” – Modern Talking
  91. “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day” – Morcheeba
  92. “Suedehead” – Morrissey
  93. “Kickstart My Heart” – Motley Crue
  94. “Seven Impossible Days” – Mr. Big
  95. “Shake Your Tailfeather” – Nelly, P.Diddy & Murphy Lee
  96. “Looking Like Danger” – New Kids On The Block
  97. “The Hand That Feeds” – Nine Inch Nails
  98. “Bombs Over Baghdad” – Outkast
  99. “Don’t Mess With The Dragon” – Ozomatli
  100. “Conversations With My 13-year-old Self” – Pink

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Now about the blogging project itself. I will start by writing a post inspired by one of the song titles from the list. My choice would be “The Hand That Feeds” from Nine Inch Nails, hence the strikeout. When I’m finished with it, I will tag two of my friends. They will then see the list, choose the title they want, and write about it. And so on, and so forth.

At first glance, this may seem uninteresting. Yet if you ponder the issue, you can write anything about the title you choose. A piece of fiction, rants, ramblings, humors, you name it. In this sense, this is like a Creative Writing Workshop, – which I figure will be useful for us bloggers to engage every once in a while.

I hope you’re with me… Have fun toying with the ideas….!

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POSTSCRIPT :

  • Most of the songs are available for streaming via Last.fm.  I encourage you to listen to it at least once, or at least search for the lyrics.
  • Please leave a comment to claim your title.  I will then strike it out as unavailable.

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UPDATES :

A Brief of Boobs

24 Oct

When Nindya tagged me at her blog to write a post about boobs, I silently cursed the idea of viral blogging..  Oh yes, I’m perfectly straight, before you start to question my sexual orientation.  Yet, I was, – and still am, puzzled about the concept of boobs.  I don’t have one, – let alone a pair of them.  You can imagine my serious dilemma here…

This was made even harder since apparently I was known in the online world as a blogger who write inspiring posts, – sometimes even philosophical.  How on earth are you supposed to spin the notion of mammary glands into an inspiration ?  Beats me.

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Yet I shall try.  What I’m going to offer is my personal guess of why are men fascinated with breasts.  It is by no means scientific, as my mind doesn’t work well in this time of day ( I wrote this at 9 AM ).  I will not also go down the route of sexual orientation here.  Obviously, the first reason why men love boobs is because it is what it is.  Boobs are boobs, and men are men.  That one is pretty crystal-clear, so it’s best left alone.

What I do think is, the roots of breasts admiration stretched back to one’s childhood.  Breasts are the sole mode of survival for most babies, be them female or male infants.  This fact alone explains a lot for us.  If boobs are the only means for little human beings, surely it’s understandable if their worship of it are carried on to adulthood ?  The only difference maybe that in adults, such admiration lies dormant and a lot more subtle.  Well, maybe not.  🙂 But I mean, it will be very rare thing indeed if you can find a man who pouts his mouth and tries to suckle like a baby at a pair of boobs he admired…

On the other hand, this silly hypothesis is problematic.  One may argue, if such is the case, why then women do not share same fascination ?  After all, the female of the species also fed at their mother breasts, didn’t they ?  How come women don’t stare at them the way men do at some later point in their lives ?  This is a rather difficult antithesis to tackle.  Again, I can only guess.  I feel that this is the point where we must turn to a Freudian discourse for a possible answer.

Women don’t stare at each other’s boobs and admire them because of one thing :  They don’t have this thing called Oedipus Complex when they were kids.  When you turn the coin to look at the other side, I think that this must be it.  We have reached the end of our quest for the holy answer.  Coupled with the fact that breasts are the life-sustainer for babies; Oedipus Complex amplifies men’s needs for boobs.  Notice the usage of the word “need”.  I honestly feel that men are not just merely fascinated with them.  They validly need the breasts itself, to have and to hold, to stare and behold….

In the case of female infants, their desires pale overtime as they grow their own breasts.  It is a classic case of “You-don’t-know-what-you-got-till-you-lose-it”, – inverted.  Once you own something, it quickly lose its charm over you.  In fact, – on another story and another occasion, this premise will explain a particular psychological phenomenon for female infants : penis envy.  But I don’t want to digress….

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Where then, is the position of boobs for our current society ?  I honestly have no idea.  What got apparent as I wrote this is the importance of breasts for mankind.  Boobs are absolutely crucial for our survival.  With that in mind, I’ll ask you all to share a moment of silence with me, and bow to this most noble physical apparatus of all :  Boobs.

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P.S. :  I’ll only tag one person for this one : @rampok.  Do your thang, dude..!

Man Gone Down

22 Oct

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A stream-of-consciousness kind of book could be very hard to tackle.  Yet when you prevail, it often rewards you well for the efforts.

“Man Gone Down” is no different.  Frustratingly absurd at times, it simply refuses to be read as your usual bedtime story.  I had to read it in a full-concentration mode to fully appreciate it.  Oh yes, in some lighter passages you can let your attention wanders, but you would risk missing some beautiful thoughts which more often than not, lurks masquerading behind some imageries and powerful allegories.

Using metaphors heavily, Thomas takes us to a journey deep into a mind of a 35 year-old man who is in some crises in his life.  Broke and broken, the unnamed narrator gropes desperately for some grip to salvage his spirit for some serious survival.  Granted, this is a classic, maybe even overused, theme for a book; but Thomas daringly twisted it into a searching mental quest, questioning the biggest myth of all : The American Dream.

I will not pretend that I was able to comprehend this book wholly.  A work of this scope needs several re-reading to hit you as hard as it was meant to be.  Hell, my edition of it even has a set of reading guides at the end of it.  One thing I do know is, Thomas is a strong user of words.  At some of this book’s best, his diction makes my arm trembles.

Go figure…!!

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This book can be read online here.

Maya – Deliberations of Life and Love

22 Oct

I had high hopes with this one.  After all, Gaarder was the man who penned one of the modern classics that is Sophie’s World.

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And he didn’t disappoint me.  Maya is definitely a worthy successor to the likes of Sophie’s World and Vita Brevis.  Staying true to his calling, he takes us in a tour-de-force of hard philosophical questions that were difficult to imagine, – let alone deliberate, by anyone alone.  This, – I think, is where his greatest influence is supposed to be : in his provocations where one is forced to take a long, hard look at oneself and ponder why is he living at all.  Such incitements are necessary because by default, man always strive to fulfil, but not question, his needs.

Focusing more to the question of evolution and biology, Maya nevertheless feel a little bit constrained by the love-story plot.  This did not become obvious, however, until the last 40 pages or so.  A savoring reader thus will not have any problems in immersing into Gaarder’s typical mental discourses happening all over this book.

What more interesting is his try to take on mystery / thriller genre, – however slight.  Granted, in the end the mystery was only used as a device to build the momentum towards climax; but it’s still intriguing for me that he adopt such an adventurous plan.  Not that it didn’t work.  On the contrary, the execution was of such excellence that I was fooled into thinking that this is truly an enigmatic book in the same league as Eco.  Now that I had time to think about the issue, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising at all.  I mean, a man who can construct a very exciting verbal scene full of anguish between his human character and a gecko; will surely be able to keep us in his grip in one or two alternate methods.

The epilogue, then, explains all.  Only then it became apparent that this is a first and foremost, a love story.  A very beautiful and profound love story, for that matter.  Yet, I can not help but think that this is also this book’s weak point.  Had Gaarder been more flexible; maybe letting go to the momentum and taking on the metaphysical thriller theme to the end will pay more.  It almost feels like a hangover for me : riding so high in the buildup, but then take a sharp ( although admittedly sweet ) drop in the end.  It then dictates a necessary evaluation of the question :  Should a literary work’s end justify the means ?

Finally, this book again exhibits Gaarder’s ability as a storyteller.  Bearing that small complaint in mind, I’d still gladly recommend this one.  If  you don’t read this book with a critic’s spectacle, then it’s truly enjoyable to let yourself go, even swept by some of the finest dialogues I’ve ever read in modern fiction..!!

Half Broken Things : Sweet Humiliation

22 Oct

If you’re anything like me, you must have some judgement ( however slight ) of a book you’re going to read.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be interested to read any books at all.

Half Broken Things, I’m ashamed to say, is one of the books that I underestimated.  Two days later, after I finished reading it, I was completely humiliated.  Not that I mind, though..

You know.. I’ve always been fascinated by writers who can take some dull, bland and tasteless events and painted them with his words to form a vivid picture of an exciting events.  Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” instantly come to mind.  In a way, I think that’s what separates great works from the rest : the ability to transcend an ordinary world into a gloriously sweet ( or sad ) surroundings.

This is where this book main strength lies.  Daily concerns like money and food turned into a monster that haunts you constantly here. Telling the story of three reluctant loners in life, it successfully chilled me to the bone that hunger and loneliness are very real.  And when they are, they will drive some people to the dizzy heights of a psychological cliff-edge, not knowing where to ( or even whether if he should ! ) return.  For Steph, Michael and Jean, they are simply some dire needs to die for.

I really could not talk about this book a lot without risking to give you some spoiler.  Its simplicity doesn’t allow that.  Don’t let it deceive you though.  I’ll just make one comment at this point :  As far as I remember, this is the only book where I encountered crimes that feel so natural, effortless and pristine.  At some points, I even could not continue without lighting a cigarette to calm my nerves…

Anyway, if there’s a time I wouldn’t mind being humiliated, it’s the time after I read this book.  Heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, subtle, poignant and even lyrical; this book is sublime.  Very much recommended.. ( 3.5 out of 5 )

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater : Ramblings of an Unquiet Mind

22 Oct

I am forced to answer a question whose answer I’ve always taken for granted all this time :  Do you have to be able to fully understand a book to appreciate it as a work of art ?.  I reckoned that the answer must be yes.  Boy, was I wrong.

Confessions is a difficult work.  De Quincey apparently did not try very hard to make himself as readable as possible.  Instead, he resorted to a strange method where he seemingly just recorded whatever happened in his head.  The proverbial flight-of-ideas, so to speak.  I did not relish this at all when I first tried to read this.  His ramblings are so difficult to follow, and sometimes even incoherent.

But then it dawned on me that this is exactly where the genius of Confessions is located.  It succeeded excellently in giving me a picture of how exactly a mind of an addict work : frantically.  It forces me to challenge the way I comprehend good literatures so far.  It disturbed me.

If there is one thing I complain about Confessions; it would be its unattachment from reality.  While the journaling-style of writing fits neatly his intention to document his thoughts as an addict, I seriously doubt whether this book will appeal greatly to the greater part of readers.  Always philosophical in nature, his ramblings are sophisticated, to say the least.  At worst, imagine studying philosophy when you’re stoned on marijuana or something.  Anyone who ever went to school surely can imagine what a humongous task it would make.

A good work indeed, but not recommended for those who gets tired easily on long discourses about Philosophy.  Oh, and while you’re at it, I also lament the fact that de Quincey spent so many pages in descrying Coleridge and praising Wordsworth.  It’s too much, methinks.  But then again, maybe it was his intention ? 🙂

Link :  Download from Project Gutenberg