Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! And Feliz dia de los muertos!

(c) 2010 K. Smokey Cormier

Devil in a blue dress

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book List 2010

Sadly behind on everything this year, except dealing with medical crises and lawsuits. Wevs, as y'all might say.

This is the list for 01/01/2010:

Book List 2010
  1. A Ceremonial Death - B.J. Oliphant
  2. A History of Cambodia - David Chandler
  3. A House in Gross Disorder - Cynthia B. Herrup
  4. A Journalist, A General, and An Army in Burma - U Thaung
  5. A Mercy - Toni Morrison
  6. A Novel Bookstore - Laurence Cousse
  7. A Point of Light - Zhou Mei
  8. Agnes Smedley - J.R. & S.R. MacKinnon
  9. Among the White Moonfaces - Shirley Lim Geok-lin
  10. An Advanced History of India - Majumdar, Raychaudhuri & Dutta
  11. Ancient Roman Feasts & Recipes - Jon Solomon
  12. Asian Dragons & Green Trade - Simon Tay & Daniel Esty
  13. Beating the Blues - Thase & Lang
  14. Before Kampuchea - Milton Osborne
  15. Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
  16. Black Dog of Fate - Peter Balakian
  17. Buddhism in Vietnam - Minh Chi, Ha Van Tan, Nguyen Tai Thu
  18. Cambodia Silenced: The Press Under Six Regimes - Harish Mehta
  19. Captains of Consciousness - Stuart Ewen
  20. Chinese Customs - Henri Dore
  21. Christmas Island -
  22. Colonial Masculinity - Mrinalini Sinha
  23. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
  24. Death for Old Times' Sake - A.J. Orde
  25. Desis in the House - Sunaina Maira
  26. Finnegan's Wake - James Joyce
  27. Fire in the Lake - Frances Fitzgerald
  28. First Person Singular - Joyce Carol Oates
  29. Flashbacks - Morley Safer
  30. Flower of the Dragon - Richard Boyle
  31. Folklore of Tamil Nadu - S.M.L. Lakshman Chettiar
  32. Gandhi's Truth — On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence - Erik H. Erikson
  33. Grasshoppers & Elephants - Wilfred Burchett
  34. Hero And Deity - Pham Quynh Phuong
  35. In Pursuit of Mountain Rats - Anthony Short
  36. Incursion: From America's Chokehold on the NVA Lifelines to the Sacking of the Cambodian Sanctuaries - J.D. Coleman
  37. In The Woods - Tana French
  38. Into Cambodia - Keith William Nolan
  39. Isvar Chandra Vidyasagar - Subhal Chandra Mitra
  40. Juliet, Naked - Nick Hornby
  41. Khmers Stand Up! - Justin Corfield
  42. Looking for the Aardvark - A.J. Orde
  43. May 13 - Kua Kia Soong
  44. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson
  45. Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan - Melody Ermachild Chavis
  46. Minorities of the Sino-Vietnamese Borderland - Maurice Abadie
  47. Murder and Mayhem in 17th Century Cambodia - Alfons van der Kraan
  48. Myths About The Ethnic Chinese "Economic Miracle" - Go Bon Juan & Joaquim Sy
  49. Nakshi Kantha of Bengal - Sila Basak
  50. Nonsense - Robert J. Gula
  51. No Cowardly Past - James Puthucheary
  52. Offerings: The Ritual Art of Bali -
  53. Orientalism - Edward W. Said
  54. Outwitting the Gestapo - Lucie Aubrac
  55. Pearl S. Buck, A Cultural Biography - Peter Conn
  56. People's War, People's Army - Vo Nguyen Giap
  57. Pham Xuan An, General of the Secret Service - Hoang Hai Van & Tan Thu
  58. Physics and Philosophy - Werner Heisenberg
  59. Pol Pot - Philip Short
  60. Primitive Art - Frank Boas
  61. Reading Lolita In Teheran - Azar Nafisi
  62. Rosie - Anne Lamott
  63. Sapphires & Garlic - Ruth Reichl
  64. Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye (The Biography Of A Master Film-Maker - Andrew Robinson
  65. Screenwriting 434 - Lew Hunter
  66. Self Censorship: Singapore's Shame - James Gomez
  67. Shanghai Refuge, A Memoir of the WWII Jewish Ghetto - Ernest G. Heppner
  68. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
  69. Sherpas Through Their Rituals - Sherry B. Ortner
  70. Shirin Fozdar: Asia's Foremost Feminist - Rose Ong
  71. Singapore:Journey Into Nationhood
  72. Singapore The Air-Conditioned Nation - Cherian George
  73. Singapore & The Many-Headed Monster - Joe Conceicao
  74. Singapore Women Re-presented - Constance Singam and Audrey Chin
  75. Singapore's People's Action Party: Its History, Organization and Leadership - Pang Cheng Lian
  76. Sisters in the Resistance - Margaret Collins Weitz
  77. Sisters of Heaven - Patti Gully
  78. Square Foot Gardening - Mel Bartholomew
  79. Still Life - E.E. Horlak
  80. Strangers Always A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai - Rena Krasno
  81. Stress and Mental Health in Malaysian Society - Tan Chee Khuan
  82. The Art of the Novel - Milan Kundera
  83. The Birth of Vietnam - Keith Weller Taylor
  84. The British Humiliation of Burma - Terence R. Blackburn
  85. The Devil Finds Work - James Baldwin
  86. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barberry
  87. The Emergence of Modern Turkey - Bernard Lewis
  88. The Emperor - Ryszard Kapuscinski
  89. The Enthusiast - Charlie Haas
  90. The Gift - Lewis Hyde
  91. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
  92. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
  93. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
  94. The Hatchet Man of Singapore - J.B. Jeyaretnam
  95. The Hungry Tide - Amitav Ghosh
  96. The Likeness - Tana French
  97. The Lives of Agnes Smedley - Ruth Price
  98. The March of Folly From Troy To Vietnam - Barbara W. Tuchman
  99. The Mind's I - Hofstadter & Dennett
  100. The Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
  101. The Narrow Strip of Land - Tran Mai Nam
  102. The Pantropheon - Alexis Soyer
  103. The Penang Po Leung Kuk -
  104. The Plague - Albert Camus
  105. The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore - Christopher Tremewan
  106. The Remembered Village - M.N. Srinivasan
  107. The Rise & Fall of the Knights Templar - Gordon Napier
  108. The Singapore Council of Women and The Women's Movement - Phyllis Ghim Lian Chew
  109. The Singapore House - Norman Edwards
  110. The Syonan Years I - Lee Geok Boi
  111. The Syonan Years II - Lee Geok Boi
  112. The Tin Drum - Gunther Grass
  113. The Triads in Singapore and Malaya - Leon Comber
  114. The Ugly Chinaman - Bo Yang
  115. The Unexpected Corpse - B.J. Oliphant
  116. The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler
  117. Time Bombs in Malaysia - Lim Kit Siang
  118. Victims and Perpetrators - Ea Meng-try & Sorya Sim
  119. Vietnam & America: The Most Comprehensive Documented History of the Vietnam War - Gettleman, et al
  120. Vietnam Cultural Window
  121. Warsaw of Asia: The Rape of Manila - Boni Escoda
  122. Who Killed Aung San? - Kin Oung
  123. Women in the Holocaust - Dalia Ofer, Lenore J. Weitzman, Eds.
  124. Writers' Workshop in a Book - Cheuse and Alvarez
  125. Yogini Cult & Temples - Vidya Dehejia

  126. Your Memory: A User's Guide - Alan Baddeley

Go ahead. Tell me I overdid it. See if I care.

Obviously I'll never finish this fucking buttload of books before January. Stay tuned for the book review.

2009 Final Book Review

This is it! The final review of books on my reading list for the year.

2009 Final Book Review
  • A VietCong Memoir - Truong Nhu Tang

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? A very, very interesting look at the VN war from the inside. The writer, who now lives in France, was a member of the "middle" - neither pro-Viet Minh nor pro-American, initially. He describes how his sympathies turned towards the Viet Minh (later derisively termed by the Americans "Viet Cong"), and the resulting power shifts and political ideologies created by the long battle by VietNamese nationalists against foreign occupation, colonization, and all the ills attendant thereupon. He suffered for his ideology, and is understandably somewhat bitter as a result, but his memoir is well worth reading.
    Reread? As time permits.

  • Armed Communist Movements in Southeast Asia - Lim Joo Jock, Vani S., Eds.

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? A series of scholarly papers on the nature and capabilities of the armed factions of the Communist party throughout Southeast Asia. Technical. Requires a reasonable familiarity with the history and politics of the region. Only for those with real interest.
    Reread? Probably not.

  • Comet In Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History - Tan Jing Quee and Jomo K.S., Eds

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? A must for anyone with any interest in the history of Southeast Asia. A revealing look at the machinations of the British and the puppets that they used in order to hold on to the last vestiges of their crumbling empire. It will change your outlook on history and politics, regardless of your current ideology.
    Reread? Yes.

  • Kranji - Romen Bose

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? Only for those with any serious interest in the WW II as it played out in the Pacific Theater, and the commemoration of the individuals who lost their lives therein. Light reading, despite the heavy subject matter.
    Reread? No.

  • Lavinia - Ursula K. LeGuin

    Borrowed? Bri. Blame him.
    Recommended? Interesting, but only to SF fans, feminists, and those with an interest in the classics. Not her best effort, but readable.
    Reread? No.

  • Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks

    Borrowed? Bri. Blame him some more.
    Recommended? Highly. Few scientists are as enjoyable and thoroughly readable, in fact, delightful, as Dr. Sacks. La Casa de Los Gatos has never read a book by this author that didn't cause a neuronal tingle, and lots of "Aha!" moments as his skillful hand draws the skeins of various observations into a magical tapestry with the underlying scientific theories. An utter joy for anyone interested in the human brain.
    Reread? Pleez. We begs and begs.

  • Niels Lyhne - Jens Peter Jacobsen

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? A pretty book. Not sure that I liked it much. It's lyrical. The author is skilled. Had the same feeling as when reading Virginia Woolf. Skilled writer, subject matter not very interesting. Nevertheless, the literary world swoons over both writers. We are willing to accept blame for being an eccentric curmudgeon with unlikely, as it were, likes and dislikes. Feh.
    Reread? Nope.

  • Sisterhood: The Untold Story - Joash Moo

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? Not really. Interesting only if you have prurient attitudes about transsexuals, or if you want some anecdotal information about transgender life in Malaysia.
    Reread? Nuh-uh.

  • Slaughter and Deception: Batang Kali - Ian Ward & Norma Miraflor

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? Oh boy. This is one of the incidents that will never be forgotten by the people who experienced it, and that the British Foreign Office has done their best to cover up for decades. Post WWII, Malaya was ready for independence, but the British (who fled like chickens when the Japanese came bicycling over the Burma road) were not ready to give up their colonies. As a result of their wartime Lend-Lease agreements with the US, the British needed resources to repay their indebtedness, and the colonies were their resources. Needless to say, the natives did not agree, having lost many of their number in the fight to defend their nation (after the British, assuring them for decades that they were protected, turned out to have lied, and fled to evade the consequences), and during the terrible war years that followed. This book is the description of one of the post-war crimes that occurred, when British troops massacred an entire village for the "crime" of being, apparently, unable to understand English. Britain's My Lai. Ward and Miraflor have done a fine job of documenting the incident. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of WWII, colonial history, Southeast-Asian history, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and British history.
    Reread? Ah, yeah, sure. Soon as I need to lose some more weight or something.

  • The Communist Struggle in Malaya - Gene Z. Hanrahan

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? Hanrahan is a "cold warrior." 'Nuff said. Nothing in this book that you couldn't find elsewhere in a more objective presentation.
    Reread? Puh-leez, as in, never.

  • The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

    Borrowed? Ms. Manitoba, of course.
    Recommended? Highly. Frankly, I didn't expect to like this book much. Any time a book is raved about by all and sundry, you can pretty much bet that it appeals to the lowest common denominator, cough, cough, Dan Brown. Ondaatje is, of course, worlds above the likes of Brown. Not sure if I'm ready to put him in my pantheon of Great Writers (Kafka, Garcia Marquez, Rushdie, Zola, Mo Yan, Tanizaki, Tagore, Sharat Chandra, et al). Must read more. Excellent book, highly recommended.
    Reread? Groan. As soon as there is time.

  • The Mak Nyahs: Malaysian Male to Female Transexuals - Teh Yik Koon

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? This book is actually the result of research into issues affecting the lives of the transgender/transexual community in Malaysia. The author is sympathetic, yet objective. For those interested in gender issues, social issues, transgender/transexual issues in Asia.
    Reread? Not really.

  • The Queen's Gambit - Walter Tevis

    Borrowed? That wretched Canuck, at it again.
    Recommended? To chess lovers, Tevis fans, and anyone who needs a fun read. Not a weighty tome, although as chess-impaired, we have to admit that a lot of it just went Whoooosh! right over our heads.
    Reread? No.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Chinese Tea - Bret Hinsch

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? A good guide for beginners. The writer is quite the Sinophile, and clearly knows his stuff, but if you're not into Chinese tea, this book is a little too too for you.
    Reread? No.

  • The Worst Album Covers In The World Vol. 2 -

    Borrowed? The offender shall remain nameless.
    Recommended? Sure, if you want to guffaw at teh Tacky. Enjoyed it. Good break from reading about war crimes.
    Reread? No.

  • The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michael Chabon

    Borrowed? The Canadians have infiltrated this blog as well as our heads. We welcome our new Canadian overlords.
    Recommended? Highly. Never liked Michael Chabon before, but this book set that right in a big way. This is a writer who, if he keeps producing stuff like this, is going to win some big-assed fucking prize, and you heard it here last. Love the Yiddishkeit. Read it. You'll love it. Nu, what have you got to lose?
    Reread? Oh hell to the fucking yeah.

  • Vietnam: A Long History - Nguyen Khac Vien

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? For a history of VietNam from a VietNamese viewpoint, by an eminent and highly respected VietNamese scholar, look no further. Sad to say, the post-revolutionary period to the present is somewhat lacking in the fine detail of the earlier periods, but this is the definitive tome if you want VietNamese history uncoloured by colonial prejudice.
    Reread? Geeze, when? Love to, but WHEN?

  • What is the What - Dave Eggers

    Borrowed? Blame those damn Canucks. They're taking over the world, eh?
    Recommended? Highly. Dave Eggers is another writer that I never could get into before. I'm told I need to read Zeitoun to appreciate the full magnificence that is Dave Eggers, but if you can read this book and not think that the writer is simply effortlessly brilliant, well. Dave Eggers, I used to fucking HATE you. I'm converted now. The trick to writing someone else's story is to become invisible, to allow the subject to have their own voice, yet to be the master of that story, to patch it and polish it and put it in order so that someone who doesn't know the protagonist can form an idea of just who that person is, what shaped them, their pains and griefs, their triumphs and losses. Eggers does this masterfully. Zeitoun next.
    Reread? Let's see, was it "Hell to the yeah?"

  • Who Won The Malayan Emergency - Herbert Andrew

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? Um. Herbert Andrew was, like, some low-level gunny in Malaysia sometime after WWII, during the period called (euphemistically) the Emergency. He has opinions. Not all of them seem to be grounded in fact.
    Reread? This book would totally be a candidate for "Hell to the No."

  • Women Against The Raj - Joyce C. Lebra

    Borrowed? No.
    Recommended? For historians, feminists, military buffs, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Indians, Southeast-Asians, and the curious. The book describes the women of Malaysia (of Indian origin), who bravely armed themselves, formed the Rani of Jhansi regiment, and fought against the Japanese. The stories of the women who survived are interwoven with the historical background in which they lived and fought. Fascinating book. Highly recommended.
    Reread? Time, time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jon Stewart at the 92nd Street Y

Here's an excerpt of an interview ... Terry Gross (from Fresh Air) interviewing Jon Stewart back in September at the 92nd Street Y in NYCity ...

GROSS: I'm going to read some questions from the audience.

Mr. STEWART: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: What role does Judaism play in your professional life? How about your personal life?

Mr. STEWART: I can't believe that came out of 92nd Street Y.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: You know what's great? Look through that. I bet they're all that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: What role does Judaism play in your day? Next question: Judaism, does it play a role?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: Next question: your roles and Judaism, what do you think?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: The - I mean I don't know even, so what is it again? What is it again?

GROSS: It is again, what role does Judaism play in your professional life? How about your personal life?

Mr. STEWART: What role does Judaism play? Wait - let me, I don't know who asked this question, so let me just direct it to the audience, what do you want me to say? That it forms my...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Let me focus the question for you. I think maybe what they want to hear is did you ever practice? Was being Jewish ever significant to you, other than culturally, the kind of humor and...

Mr. STEWART: I think I am genetically, I don't know what tribe I am from, but...

GROSS: The Henny Youngman tribe.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: Yeah, I mean I'm not a - I don't prescribe, necessarily, to - I don't, you know, there's so many different things that go into Judaism and the cultural aspect of it. I feel like an outsider. So, to some extent, I guess, Diaspora is in my wheelhouse. But I don't know if that's Judaism or other things, or just the way my brain is wired.

GROSS: Well, you probably feel like an outsider among Jews, too.

Mr. STEWART: That's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: I would consider myself reform in the sense that, for instance on Yom Kippur this year, I had a bacon, egg, and cheese Croissanwich.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

But, folks, it's waaaaaay more fun to listen to it. If you wanna, go here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Obama and Devil with a Blue Dress On

(c) 2010 K. Smokey Cormier

Keeping things in perspective: I'm very unhappy about the recent announcements by the "Justice" Department -- that they're going to appeal the judgement about "Don't ask, don't tell" and that they will, indeed, enforce U.S. law and arrest marijuana users in California -- no matter how we vote. I'm unhappy. So, I'd love the calacas in the blue dresses to bite Obama's neck. Fantasy. However, what I really want is for Obama's administration to succeed. Why? Because the alternative IS SO MUCH WORSE!!!!!!!! So, what's a girl to do? Create a photograph.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

John Lennon: Rest in Peace and ...

Happy Birthday.

Sending peace and love to his friends and families.

We are big John Lennon fans here at TPC-CultureVultures.

Thanks Google for that great John Lennon Logo!!!

There's a great show devoted to John Lennon at Fresh Air. Check it out: Cynthia Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr remember John in interviews. Historian Jon Weiner talks about the FBI files on Lennon.