Posts filed under Memories

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (1973)

Filed in Memories, Music

The realisation that this is my favourite Elton John album came to me as I was listening to it on my way to work this morning.

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Three Women Writers

Filed in Memories

A recent entry about Maxine Hong Kingston got me digging into my diaries to look at when I’d first come across her latest novel, The Fifth Book of Peace. Here’s what I found:

Sun, 7 Dec 2003

Yesterday, at MPH MidValley, I saw both Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston have released new books! Toni’s is called Love (I think), while Maxine’s is something with the word “Fifth” in it. The back cover had raves about Woman Warrior and China Men, which led me to think this new book is a continuation of the latter.

In 1989, before I left Norwich, I attended a reading by Toni Morrison at UEA in conjunction with the launch of Beloved. I was too poor to get a copy so I don’t have an autographed copy by her. I later picked up a used copy, big print version, while staying at Hillcrest (downtown San Diego, California).

Around the same time, Maxine Hong Kingston released Tripmaster Monkey. I bought a copy, a hardback with a price tag of around £30/-. Maxine meant more to me than Toni did. Now, they both mean the same, as I’m planning to buy both their new books when they’re available in paperback. Preferably big print. The hardback versions of both carries a price tag of RM99.95. Eeek!

Between 1989 and 2003, Toni Morrison published two more books (Jazz and Paradise) and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As well as something called Dancing in the Dark, a lit crit about African American literature. Maxine’s new book is her one and only release since Tripmaster Monkey. It took her about 4 or 5 years from China Men to Tripmaster Monkey. I was so ecstatic she finally published something, I wrote in the book “I waited 9 years for this book”. It’s 14 years since Tripmaster Monkey. Am I going to write something similar in the new book when I eventually get a copy? The difference between the two books is this – I knew about Tripmaster Monkey and was waiting for it with eagerness. I never knew about the new book until yesterday. It sneaked up on me without warning. Toni’s new book did the same thing, too.

Meanwhile, Amy Tan has probably eclipsed Maxine Hong Kingston as the best known Asian American author. Her Joy Luck Club was released after Maxine’s Tripmaster Monkey. She’s released 3 or 4 other books since. That doesn’t mean she’s a better writer than Maxine. Just more prolific.

To see why The Fifth Book of Peace is the only book from Maxine since Tripmaster Monkey, read here.

The house on Bathurst Street

Filed in Friends, Memories

Couldn’t sleep last night (probably caused by the thought of going back to work after almost a week off). Ended up going through my handphone’s address book to see who I could disturb at that hour. There was someone over in London, so I sms’d her.

Me: Krudy!

To my surprise, the reply was almost immediate. Which was a real surprise, since this is someone who never replies sms’s and then blames it on her answering machine.

Her: Yer wha ?!

Back went my response.

Me: Where’s pic of u on bike?

Another immediate response from her.

Her: Who goes there

Looked like she didn’t seem to know who was sending her the messages.

Me: It’s Chet!

Next thing I know, my handphone was vibrating. Someone was calling. Unfamiliar number. But had to be her. In the excitement, pressed the wrong button and cancelled the call. (duh, Chet … ) She called again. We eventually connected.

It was 7:30 p.m. where she was, and 3:30 a.m. where I was.

During the course of the call, she told me she lost her handphone recently and didn’t have my number anymore. That’s why she didn’t know who’d messaged her. Then she said she kind of figured out who it was, cuz “only one person would say ‘Hey, Krudy!’.” I corrected her that I’d only sms’d “Krudy!”

We had a nice chat, and ended up reminiscing about that summer in 1988 when we shared a house on Bathurst Street in Norwich. I told her I thought we spent the whole summer there, but that when I checked my diary for that year, was surprised to find it was only for a week or two.

She asked if I remembered the fight we had. I said we had lots of fights. She said it was the one where I’d walked off down the road and she yelled after me, “f**k off!” Not really.

I asked if she remembered the night she came back from London on her scooter and was struggling to open the front door when I opened it and found her there. She didn’t.

But we both remembered the album collection in that house in Bathurst Street, especially the Janis Ian ones.

And then she asked if I remembered the book we found in the house. The Joy of Sex.

“God, it was so dated,” she said.

Er … yes.

We said lots of other things early this morning. It was really nice of her to call.

Thanks, Krudy.

Films Studies: A cross-cultural experience

Filed in Memories

This is one of the times I’m glad I kept a diary. I was searching through my 1987 diary for any reference to Film Studies and found the following:

Tues, 28 April 1987

My first taste of Film Studies. Quite an experience. Two films today – a short 4-minute avant-garde film followed by the full-length feature “Sansho Dayo” by Kenji Mizoguchi. I’d read up on both film and director. Was all prepared to take notes but too dark to make sense! I was actually writing in the dark and, when the lights came up, discovered that I’d started halfway down a fresh page!

Two films to start off my first Film Studies course, and both of them not English and not American.

Even till today, I remember the Japanese film, its title, name of director and especially the opening scene, but had no memory of the other film until I read the diary entry above. Why? I think cuz I was very surprised to find a foreign film being shown in a course run by the Film Studies Department of the School of English & American Studies in a British university.

How much more cross-cultural can you get? Especially when this is being written by a Malaysian?

(to be cont’d)

Fun in Film Studies

Filed in Memories

Imagine spending Wednesday afternoons in the main lecture theatre, watching American film classics as part of the course work, and jotting down notes in the dark to refer to later.

The first time I did that, I found I’d written all over the page and could hardly make out what I’d written. After looking at various lighting possibilities, I eventually settled for a mini flip torch that switched on when the lid was, er, flipped up. This meant I didn’t have to keep the light on throughout a film screening (which would’ve disturbed my coursemates’ concentration) but only when I needed to jot down some notes. So, instead of a constant mini light source where I was seated (I seriously didn’t need that kind of attention), there was an intermittent on/off light whenever I attended a film screening. *grin* Looking back, I really enjoyed this – both the film watching and the note taking.

That was basically what the Film Studies Department was all about – watching movies, learning what made up a good movie, why Hollywood was so hugely successful, and the difference between “cinema”, “film” and “movie”.


Yes, right in the heart of an English university, we were studying Hollywood film history. Not British film history, not American film history, but specifically Hollywood. The reason behind this may be gleaned from the name of the School that the Film Studies Department was a part of.

School of English & American Studies.

Not 100% English Studies, but what may be seen as half-and-half English and American Studies.

In fact, the School had a very strong American Studies Department with English scholars specialising in American history and American literature. Every year, the Department would also welcome exchange students from the States while sending English students over for a year in an American college or university.

(I’d actually wanted to do my second year in the States, it would be a dream come true for me to study both in England and the States, but was dissuaded from it on the grounds that I was paying for my own studies while English students had their education paid for by their own Local Education Authorities. Thus, spending a year in the States would add another year and extra costs. It was a very persuasive argument so I dropped this plan, and instead started thinking of how I could actually go to study in the States. But that’s material for another post and meanwhile, I am digressing here.)

(to be cont’d … )