Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Kraftwerk has to be one of my all-time favorite.

This is one of the most melodic and widely sampled piece by Kraftwerk.  They released a German and an English version, and it reached No.1 in the UK singles chart in February 1982.

Coldplay sampled The Model’s melody, see you can hear it.

I saw them perform in New York during their Minimum-Maximum tour.  The sound is indescribable – clean, crisp, and rhythmic.

Here is another clip of the The Model sung in English at a concert in London in 2004.

Tangerine Dream is one of the bands that shaped my taste in electronic music.  Apparently, the key musicians still perform together but have changed their style over the years.

Their first few albums in the early 70’s are somewhat unlistenable as they are  mostly long pieces of electronic noises which sounded futuristic at the time. Nevertheless, there are some original interesting  stuff.

Force Majeure (1979) represents their best work in the period between mid 70’s to mid 80’s in my opinion.  The electronic sound is pure, depicts an empty landscape, and can be haunting and menacing at times. They have also consistently and successfully incorporated electric guitar as foreground in many of their pieces while electronic sounds fill the background.

By the 90’s, they have stuck to a distinctive sound and the releases tend to fall into the movie soundtrack or new age category.

If I can find more of their music on Youtube, I will post them here.

There are only three pieces on the Force Majeure vinyl, the title track occupying one side and “Cloudburst Flight” and “Thru Metamorphic Rock” on the other side.

I am very happy to find this clip of music on Youtube as I have not heard it for years.  I bought the vinyl LP when it first came out but do not have a turntable  anymore. The magic begins at around 1:30 after the bell, continues with a melodic change at 3:45.  The passage beyond 5:30 is a bit chessey, it is safe to ignore.  The video has nothing to do with them.

Outside the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich (Museum of Design, Ausstellungsstr. 60) is a fountain and around the perimeter of it are several bronze statues. All are all looking at the fountain either with deep thoughts, heavy emotions, or a headache.  One has apparently gone mad (or at least I think he has) and is waving at the fountain.   Didn’t think designing is such a difficult,  joyless task.

(I started writing this more than a year ago when I was stilling living in the US; left it as a draft all this time, but we are about to visit Asia, so I’d better post it before it gets really stale)

To an Asian, an electric rice cooker is an essential home appliance that is heavily used and expected to work for years.  They do indeed last for a long time.

Since we are moving to Europe soon, we have to give up our current 120V rice cooker.  Here is a chance for us to upgrade our cooker to a more advanced version (like how it goes with cell phone or laptop).  But I did not have much faith in the selection of models that are on offer in the middle of Europe.  So I asked my sister to bring us one when she came to New York to spend the holidays with us.

I know. What a thing to ask!

Being a good sister, she arrived from Hong Kong by way of Shanghai as our rice cooker-mule.  The act of bringing a rice cooker on board an airplane as hand luggage, in this day and age with size and weight restrictions, is hilarious as it is so retro. It’s what an Asian immigrant would have done back in the ’50s-’60s when electric rice cooker is either not available or exhorbitantly expensive in North America.  With all the electronics and a stainless steel exterior, it can look rather suspicious without the box.  That’s what bombs looked like in sci-fi or spy movies from the 50’s.  She said that the Shanghai airport security checked her bags twice upon discovery of the rice cooker.  Comparable models from the same Zojirushi brand are almost $100 more expensive at Mitsuwa in the US.

Well, I now have a microchipped-cooker that engages induction heating with fuzzy logic to cook rice, and makes porridge, brown rice, and sushi rice, (but not risotto, sigh).  Too bad it does not also fax or recharge my ipod.

We saw an equivalently equipped rice cooker of the same brand on sale in a Japanese grocery store in Geneva and it costs almost 700 swiss francs (US$600 plus) !

This is an old blogpost that was written before I left NY about Chinese language in US schools, but forgot about it until now.  Well, I like the artwork too.

Apparently, according to this Jan 2010 NY Times article: Foreign Languages Fade in Class — Except Chinese.,  many schools in New York gave up teaching a second language.  French and German are on the decline but there is a big increase in Chinese language tuition.

Well, I just came across this newer (Dec 30, 2010) NY Times article: Primero Hay Que Aprender Español. Ranhou Zai Xue Zhongwen. which champions learning first Spanish and then Mandarin.  Being practical and competitive parenting !

In the US, there were babyboomers (those born in the 60’s), Gen X (80’s), slackers (90’s), and now we are going to have a generation of chinese-speaking non-Asian Americans – how would they be named ? What would they do ? Emmigrate to China ?  Become expats who know the local language before reaching the teens.  Who would have thought this could happen ? (even just a few years ago)

I do not have a cat.  Nor do I have a iPad.  But this video shows the fun you (and your cat) may have when you put them together.

Our new friends, Z&J are returning to Singapore and J&J are spending the holidays in London. So we had an early gathering at our place, and the girls offered to cook.  Lucky us, right ? Authentic home style asian dishes prepared in our kitchen – what a treat.  Not only I can enjoy the dishes, I get to steal the recipe and learn how to make it the proper way.  To start, we had chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) and 2 soups – a vegetable soup and a miso soup made with freshly prepared dashi (starting with bonito flakes and kombu). The main course consisted of Hainanese chicken rice (海南雞飯 – a Singaporean specialty), Sambal fish, and chinese sausages (steamed).  We even had two kinds of rice – of course the rice specially flavored for 海南雞飯 – but also steamed white rice in which were steamed the chinese sausages.

Chawanmushi (shrimp, scallop, enoki, and deboned chicken dark meat).

Dashi under preparation.  I froze the remaining soup base as dashi cubes for future culinary experiments.

The egg custard was just perfect !  Not runny, no skin.

Flavored rice made in a pot – no electric rice cooker was used !

Cooked chicken that was just about to be “shocked”  in cold water.  There were plenty of snow outside on that day.

Fish sambal

Chinese sausages – steamed in situ with the rice (and I bet you cannot buy these from KaDeWe – see my earlier posts about German sausages:  part 1 and part 2).

I only have 4 electric rings – but the girls managed to cook the chicken, the flavored rice, the steamed rice with sausage, the fish, the chawanmushi (6 bowls individually steamed), the miso soup, and the vegetable soup.  Everything were ready at about the same time.  Amazing organization and use of cooking time and space.  Hats off to the two chefs.  Here are some action shots.

Voila – here is my place at the dining table.  It was a feast, a special evening, and we thank you again ladies.

A brazilian law student created a mashup of films by Quentin Tarantino and films by the Coen Brothers.  Try the HD and full screen options. Enjoy !

Dir.: Joel and Ethan Coen:
Blood Simple (1984)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Barton Fink (1991)
Fargo (1996)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Burn After Reading (2008)
A Serious Man (2009)

Dir.: Quentin Tarantino:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Death Proof (2007)
Inglourious Basterds (2009) <-  did you know about the deliberate spelling errors ?

The lake/river front of Geneva is beautiful, lit with mini light sabers and Pacman (thaat’s right, Pacman).  On one of my day off, we drove over in the afternoon for an afternoon of christmas shopping. The views shown here are taken from Promenade du lac (south bank) looking north across the Rhône.

Thought he retired and moved to Florida?  No, Pacman has moved to Geneva.  With no sign of Mrs. Pacman…ooh la la!

Place du Molard

Rue du Rhône near Place du lac

Rue du Marche

One of the local brands.