Friday, February 26, 2010

Starting something, thought it could be fun ♪

If you're a fan of Goldfrapp I am certain you are as excited as I am about the release of their fifth studio album Head First coming out next month. Listening to the first single 'Rocket' it sounds like they are moving back into dance territory, although it's said the album will be a mix of the musical stylings of the more folksy 'Seventh Tree' and dancy 'Supernature'.

I. Can. Not. Wait.

The music video for rocket is not out yet and I have no idea how to embed a song here. But it's leaked out there so go give it a listen. It's sure to put a smile on your face and get you tapping your feet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Muji is Love

Alexander’s love affair with Muji has become infectious. I’ve always liked their stores ever since I first discovered them here in Taiwan years ago, the stationary section in particular always made me happy.

More recently though, my enjoyment of their products has started to turn into a full-blown obsession. Sadly I cannot indulge fully in this obsession yet as we are still without home and full-time employment and will be spending the next few months traveling to Malaysia, South Africa and the US. But when we return to Taiwan in the summer I am most certainly going to be spending a lot of time and a lot of my income on Muji’s cleaning products, toiletries, stationary, snacks… you get the picture.

For now I will just enjoy some of their well-thought-out and brilliantly designed products to make my travels easier. I just invested in a stylish black shoulder bag from them with several unobtrusive pockets inside and outside as carry-on luggage for those long flights ahead of me. The bag is sturdy and just the perfect size to comfortable store some in-flight necessities; a book, notebook, phone (turned-off!), i-Pod, light sweater and scarf, sunglasses and some toiletries. It can be adjusted on the sides to make the bag wider or narrower, a feature I enjoy as I can adjust it to my needs and mood.

I also picked up a clear storage bag that neatly fits in all my in-flight toiletries like hand lotion, fragrance, hair product and compact Muji toothbrush and toothpaste, everything under 100ml in size.

Something that’s always bugged me is traveling around with heavy bottles of soap, shampoo and conditioner. But now I can store all these in small lightweight containers that I can refill as needed. The perfect size for a short two-week break in Borneo.

Finally we also got a piece of Muji luggage. Something we have desired for almost two years. A brown suitcase that is neither too large nor too small, just the right size for the two of us to fit in all our travel necessities.

I think I am set for the holiday that lies ahead now. And very much looking forward to returning to Taiwan for more shopping at Muji!

*I am sorry for not putting up any decent images here. I blame bad lighting, and not having a camera at home right now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Straight people, you need to stop

Okay I know I am preaching to the choir here. And I know that if you need to go as low as these people to prove a point you really do not have a point, but still it gets me really mad. This offensive. And striaght people of the world, you need to set your kind right.
Over the past few years I have heard several idiocies coming out of the mouths of homophobic people and it just seems to be getting worse. Is there no dignity anymore?
Recent cases are the New Hampshire State Representative, Nancy Elliott, who said the following in a discussion on same-sex marriage: "We’re talking about taking the penis of a man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wriggling it around in excrement. And you have to think, would I want that to be done to me?” (Watch the clip over at OMGblog)

Lady, you need to shut up. You do not know the first thing about anal sex, gay sex and clearly also not hetero sex. You came to this meeting to discuss marriage, why take it to anal sex? Why take it to poop? Does same-sex marriage mean you are now going to have to do anal sex? Have you got any idea hw many heterosexual men and women enjoy giving and receiving anal sex with penises and with strap-on dildos? Are you going to be putting a stop to heterosexual people getting married if they enjoy anal?

And poop? So many questions for you Ms. Elliott. Did you even prepare for this meeting or did you just get fixated on your own constipated personality and then decided to take a serious discussion to the kindergarten playground, talking about shit.

And then there was this Ugandan idiot, Pastor Martin Ssempa, an anti-gay clergyman who decided, in an effort to educate his followers about the evils of homosexuality, to show gay porn to his congregation. Nice move, show it to the kids and to the whole church. (Read the whole article on the BBC's website)

I wonder, did this idiot follow it up with a sermon about hetero sex and showed the congregation some images of every form of straight porn, from plain old plumber visiting to snuff films and violent pornography? And did he follow that up with discussions of the fact that HIV transmission in Africa is mainly as a result of straight people having unprotected sex and did he talk about domestic abuse in hetero families and teen pregnancies and botched teen abortions and oh, the fact that it is still not uncommon for HIV positive men in many African countries to rape babies to 'cure' them from HIV?

Seriously. what the hell is wrong with these people? Are we gay people really that scary that you have to go to such lengths to scare other people into fearing us or be disgusted by us? Jeeze. You need to find a hobby. Do something creative. But find a better way to use your time than hating on gay people.

Don't talk to me about family values. Straight people invented messing that whole thing up. And don't make an issue out of homosexuality when your own country is a pretty mess. Get a life and stop messing with mine and other people like me.

*This is a much toned down version of my original post in which I mostly swore. But I try to be polite. See? It's possible.

**I took the image from the website of the World Policy Institute- Project for Global Democracy and Human Rights.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Year, New shoes, Night out

We're ringing in the New Year tonight in Taipei! I can't wait to get my behind on a dancefloor again. It has been too long. And is it should be we got some new items to wear for ringing in the Year of the Tiger. I picked up a pair of classic white Converse Chuck Taylors last night. I know, I should have been wearing these when I was in my tweens, but recently I have become kind of obsessed with Converse and my feet aren't complaining so...

Happy New Year, may the Tiger bring you all lots of joy and goodness this year.
*Update: Rats scrap that. Plans got cancelled at the last moment so it seems our behinds will stay put in Hsinchu. I'll be wearing my new shoes under the covers and catch up on 30Rock and The Office. Happy New Year!

Tribute to McQueen

While I was getting out of the shower yesterday morning Alexander called out to me the terribly sad news that Alexander McQueen had passed away. So very-very tragic. I don't have to launch into a long essay to tell you how brilliant and talented he was. Look at his body of work, it speaks volumes. This is just too sad.

My little tribute to him is the video for Bjork's Alarm Call which he directed below.

Goodbye and may your rest be peaceful.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One afternoon at Melting Pot

I had a 90-minute break between two of my afternoon classes on Tuesday and decided to pass the time with coffee and the Taipei Times at Melting Pot just around he corner from my school.

The spot’s been around for a couple of years now and it is still one of my most favorite places in Hsinchu. The same two ladies who started it a couple of years ago are still there baking great cookies, making fun bagels and decent lattes. Every time I walk in after an absence of a few years I’m welcomed back by big smiles from them.

It was the perfect afternoon, with the sun brightening up the space and filling it with a pleasant yellow glow. I had moved from a coffee to a latte and was deeply absorbed in my book when I glanced a monk walking in with a young boy following behind. They ordered and sat down at a table diagonally across from me. The monk was dressed in the mustard smock, grayish pants and gray ‘socks’ that are standard here, the outfit was rounded off with hiking sandals and a dark blue baseball cap. Beautiful.

He was deeply absorbed in some general interest magazines while sipping his latte and enjoying a blueberry tart, the kid was drinking hot chocolate milk while glancing around the café, occasionally starting up a short conversation with the monk.

It was such a deeply satisfying scene. We grow up with certain ideas about the East and especially about religion here. 10 Years ago the thought of a baseball cap wearing monk with some kid in tow hanging out at a fun café drinking lattes on a Tuesday afternoon would have been completely inconceivable to me. These days a scene like this fills me with a deep sense of contentment. I know I’m saying this a lot, but I love Asia and I wish I never had to leave.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spent some time in BKK

We've been back in Taiwan for over a week now and if I don't write a little about our short stint in Bangkok I probably never will. I am a gifted procrastinator.

We arrived in the city early on the eve of the 27th, checked into our room and started working our jaws pretty much immediately. We went for dinner at inLove, a restaurant on the bank of the Chao Phaya river with great views of the Rama 9 Bridge and river from their rooftop deck. It was the perfect setting for a 'welcome back' meal.

Before our arrival I expected to be blown away by everything again, the flavors, smells of the city, traffic, people. But on the contrary it just felt completely natural and familiar. My first sip of tom-ka-gai (coconut galangal chicken soup) tasted like something I was used to, the tart mango in our salad was like something I grew up with. The same went for everything else. Jumping into a taxi the little Thai I know came back with ease, walking around the streets hearing a language I did not understand made me feel at ease.

Later on we hung out with our friend Paul on Soi 4 in Silom, its a popular gay bar area with tables on the street, all facing out to see who's coming and going. We enjoyed a couple of Changs while enjoying the crowd and mildly flirtatious waiters trying to get us to stay longer and drink more. We were all exhausted though, us from flying and Paul from work and study and he was also catching a flight to Hong Kong the next day, so after a few drinks we said our goodbyes and went back to our guesthouse in Banglamphu to crash for the night.

Thanks to jetlag I managed to sleep until after 10 the next morning. We had breakfast at Roti Mataba and it was still as good as I recalled. Love that place. We strolled around the area for a bit before heading so Sukhumvit where we were to spend the next two nights at the sweet Suk11 Guesthouse. Somehow the place still manages to stay attractive and pleasant despite being in a fairly seedy neighborhood.

We spent most of the rest of the day just eating and shopping. We hung out at Platinum Fashion Mall restocking our wardrobes. The fashions there are way funkier and hipper than at the overpriced and blah MBK. I think I found a new personal shopping hangout in BKK! In between shopping we enjoyed the spiciest papaya salad I ever had, some fishball noodle soup and a grilled fish stuffed with lemongrass. Awesomeness.

We met our friend Sarah (a former colleague from our BKK teaching days) at Central Zen’s food court for dinner. We missed the great food courts of Bangkok’s department stores and malls and this is possibly one of my favorites. It’s a stylish venue with comfortable seating and fantastic views of the traffic and BTS zipping by. Their food is excellent of course and we were all satisfied with our orders (if this sounds like copy writing I’ve been doing work in this line recently, sorry!).

We headed out to Suan Lum night bazaar where we did some more shopping with Sarah’s encouragement. Thanks!

We got up earlier on Friday to go for massages before heading to Siam Square and Siam Paragon where we hung out the next day enjoying coffee at Vanilla Industries again, browsing around bookstores and tasting samples at the Gourmet supermarket. We met up with Sarah for her birthday dinner that evening at Cabbages & Condoms, which despite its name is a great restaurant in a beautiful garden with excellent food, plus they support some great causes like family planning and educating people about preventing STD’s.

We decided to go out for a drink again on Soi 4 before turning in to bed. Our flight out was the next morning.

Our time in BKK was so short, but really satisfying. I loved being back and feeling right at home. I don’t know if we will live there again, part of me is tempted, but mostly not. Who knows? I do love the city and can easily spend a week or more there just taking it all in, enjoying the food, the people watching, the department stores and the shopping. I heart Bangkok and I cannot wait for our next trip there.
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