The year that is 2007

The tail end of the year always feels a little strange to me. The evenings are extra dusky and the promise of something new and good on the horizon almost becomes tangible. Somewhere in there is the fear of having hope dashed to a million pieces. You can almost see it in the faces of strangers walking pass you who are most probably thinking, “This year is so bad that the new one can’t sink any lower. Or maybe it can……”

So how has my year been? It started off with a big move down to the big ‘durian’ that is Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of our young nation. Tragedy struck almost immediately with some nefarious being carting off my leather shoes in the dead of night. The side view mirror of my car got whacked. On a more personal front, my life was drastically re-wired by a new workplace. Like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs I treaded the boards the best I could. I am still alive aren’t I?

Did I grow as a person? I guess I did. Did I grow into a better person? Definitely debatable but I like to think so. I have more strands of white in my hair and I am almost sure that it in no way indicates wisdom.

To sum the year up in a single word – tentative.

Audiobook….NOT!

imagedbcgi.jpegI recently downloaded Denis Johnson’s “Tree of Smoke” as an audiobook from Audible. This came about after listening to a few techno-centric podcast proclaiming that the format was the best thing since sliced bread. After downloading the DRM-protected audio files, I loaded them into my iPod and plugged into the revolution. Trust my miniscule attention span to wander after about 10 minutes. At the end of half an hour I gave up and started writing this post.

Call me old fashion but I need the physical sensation of holding a bunch of glued-together dead trees. In a sense I need murder between my fingers for my mind to stay put in one place. Something in the smell of printed pages enriches my soul. Conceptually, having someone read to you is all fine and dandy but it takes away a whole lot of what makes the act of reading a book, fun.

I listen to the radio and podcasts all the time but those formats do not require the kind of commitment reading a book demands. Podcasts are rarely about any one topic for a substantial amount of time. The majority of podcasters flit from one thing to another at a rapid pace. The closest equivalent it has in the world of prose is poetry and anthologies of short stories. Both of which I am not fond of. Give me a juicy book with a beginning, a middle and the inevitable end any time of the day. I make no apologies for the internal wirings of my neurons and synapses.

So excuse me while I take a rain check on this technological advancement.

Ecto – a Live Writer for the Mac

For the longest time now I have been looking for a Mac equivalent of the Microsoft-funded WIndows Live Writer. For the evil that is MS, the programmers that came up with the full-bodied offline blogpost editor deserves our undying admiration. Doesn’t hurt that it free.

Ecto may just do it for the Apple contingent. You may have to pay to register it but if the glowing reviews are anything to go by, it should be worth the money. This is written from Ecto and so far I am impressed. Lets hope, that like Live Writer it just gives and gives.

‘In Rainbows’ Bonus CD – a review

11.jpg

By now people should know that I love Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’. For the record I was among the 40% who actually paid for the download. Of course GBP 1.45 is way lower than what I would have to fork out for the-soon-to-released discbox. Today I want to talk about the material on the bonus 2nd cd that will come in the box.

Out-takes are out-takes for a reason. They are usually bad ideas which seemed half-way decent after that 5th beer but do not stand up to the harsh light of reason the morning after. However we are talking about Radiohead here. Some lesser bands’ careers are based on songs of the same quality as Radiohead’s most throwaway tracks. For a bunch of stuff rescued from the editing room’s floor the bonus cd stands up respectably well to repeated listening.

“Banger & Mash” is a cantankerous call to arms. Fueled by a funky bass line, the song bursts out of the starter’s block, all chrome and gleaming steel. “Down Is The New Up” slows things down with a fluid piano coda followed by its morose elder brother “Go Slowly” which moves at a glacial pace with the trademark Yorke falsetto hovering over proceedings like an angel in heat. “Last Flowers” opens with a traditional piano passage framing a simple melody fleshed out by some beautiful singing again courtesy of Major Thom.

“MK 1” and “MK 2” are short sonic interludes san vocals culled from tracks in CD1, positioned as a bridge between the 2 discs. “Up On The Ladder” is a welcome tip-of-the-hat to the progrock of “OK Computer”. Whether knowingly or otherwise “4 Minute Warning” which closes the disc, sounds amusingly like a Christmas song replete with tambourines and a mutated strain of jauntiness shot through with custom-made Radiohead foreboding. How about that folks? We just heard the followup to “In Rainbows”!

The hum of electricity – an insomniac’s reverie

I am no insomniac by any stretch of the imagination but I am a very light sleeper. The tiny sound of a light switch can wake me up in a wink. I love the silence or the lack of sound in the wee hours of the night. Well the lack of big sounds at least.

The creak of the bed, the swish of a turning body against bed sheets, the satisfied breathing of a restful mind, the melodious tinkle of the wind chime hanging in my neighbor’s porch; my mind marinates in it like a weary body in a jacuzzi.

The lack of traffic noise tricks my mind into thinking that society does not exist. We take our respite from modern life anyway we can.  

MyKad – of privacy and civil liberties

We Malaysians literally live by our IC’s or to give it its full moniker, “Identity Card”. Go to the hospital with your guts spilling out and they want to see your IC. Open a bank account and the IC is a must. Try registering a cell phone without an IC and it will all end in tears. How did a piece of plastic come to dominate every inch of lives?

With the defeat of the Howard government in Australia, the proposed Access Card was scraped to universal applause. Perhaps we should start questioning the validity of our own identification tag.

Happy New Year!

I am back! After a week or so of painfully slow dialup internet connection at home I am back onto broadband in my work-city. It was a good thing to just switch off for a few days but I really miss the snappy website loading and quick downloads. Comparisons? Like a sloth to a cheetah.

And so the new year is upon us. End of the year usually feels weird to me. All the crass christmas-sy decor only heightens the whole thing to a hyper-reality. There is hope that the new year will bring better things but it’s mixed with a twist of sadness for the good times in 2007. Admittedly it was few and far between for me but still good times are good times, right?

My new year resolutions – not to have any! As one fakestevejobs would say, Peace out!