Archive for May, 2009

Rear Window

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Last night Alex and I went on a very nostalgic date. When we first started seeing each other I was taking a Philosophy of Film class at Penn State and I would invite her along to various classic, weird, and wonderful films that I had to watch as part of that class. These screenings inevitably took place in a lecture theatre of some 70’s concrete-block building, with bum-numbingly uncomfortable seats, which was certainly not the most romantic of settings…. but they were sure to provide plenty of fodder for discussion over a cup of tea afterwards, which I think probably helped us through those first stumbling steps. Of course in those days neither of us was sure if these cinematic meetings were dates at all or merely friendly invitations, but we now know that we were both hoping they were the former.

One of the films we saw in those early days was Hitchcock’s classic “Rear Window” with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, so when I saw that it was being screened at St. John’s college as part of a student film series, I thought we ought to go for old times sake. Sure enough it was shown in a 70’s concrete building with agonising seats…. but that just made it perfect! It was funny to reminisce about how we’ve changed (Alex had long hair to her knees! No glasses or mustache for me.) and think how we never would have guessed back then that we’d be watching the same film where we are today.

There’s a little reminisence of ours and a tidbit of insight into our fantastic voyage, past and present. Besides all that, you should definitely see “Rear Window” if you get a chance. It’s brilliant, suspenseful, and hilarious. The last time we went to a film at the St. John’s series was to see “Manufactured Landscapes“, which documents Edward Burtynsky’s journey around the world photographing the impact of manufacturing on the landscape. There’s a lot of emphasis on China and it really is a fascinating look at so many places that you never see. The images are incredibly beautiful and shocking at the same time (from the standpoint of our destructive power). If you come across the film or can rent it, I can’t recommend it enough… it’s truly phenomenal. Be warned however that it’s on the long-side… so best to find a comfy seat!

Sakura and Tulips at King’s Fellows Gardens

Friday, May 1st, 2009


The flowers are in full bloom this week and we’ve had a few days of beautiful weather. After submitting my final (sort of) draft of my thesis to my supervisor, I decided to take a few hours off to stop and smell the flowers. I ended up spending the whole of that time just in and around King’s College Fellows Garden because there was more than enough to keep me occupied. Here are some photos of the tulips, roses, cherry blossoms, and other blooms. If you have any idea what any of the flowers that aren’t labeled are, I’d be keen to know. Enjoy and remember to stop and take in the world around you!

A voice in Motion

Friday, May 1st, 2009

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This past Saturday we had the chance to hear Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, do a reading. It was a truly moving experience to hear him read his work, which tends to be quite serious in terms of subject matter, ranging over topics like childhood loss, bereavement, WWI, and the list goes on. One thing that amazed both Alex and I was how well he maintained a balance between emotionally charged and downright depressing. He would have you riding at the edge of a tear, but before it could form, he’d have you breaking out with a cathartic chuckle. He was a very charismatic speaker and, as usual, I feel so much is gained by having a bit of introduction and background story going into a poem. There’s nothing like hearing the voice of the author.
Andrew Motion is stepping down from his post as Laureate and that was actually his last public engagement with that title. Typically it is a post held for life, but there has apparently been some conflict between Mr. Motion and his boss (the queen) which has hit the UK papers. Motion has been quite outspoken about what he believes the primary role of Laureate should be (promoting poetry in schools and education and setting up institutions to aid in that) and what are much lesser roles (royal commissions). I suppose there has to be some balance with appeasing your employer, but it seems that he has managed to do a great deal for his cause as well during his time as Laureate by setting up the poetry archive where you can listen to hundreds of great poets reading their own work for free (online). Why not check it out and perhaps listen to Andrew Motion read something.

After the reading we went to Charlie Chan for a late lunch and had Dim Sum, which was great. I think the last time I had Dim Sum was years ago in Boston when my sister Adrienne was there for an internship (2003?). We had some of those half-moon cellophane dumplings filled with prawn, a crab-filled dumpling in soup, mushroom filled (mochi?) pancakes, and some sort of croquettes for our meal, with Jasmine tea on the side. To finish things out we had some amazing cream-custard filled donut-like delights and dew of sago (coconut milk?) with tapioca and sweet potato in it. Yum! It was surprisingly good considering the general quality of Asian food in Cambridge and we thoroughly enjoyed it.