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September 23, 2015

Wawa No Cidal

Some preliminary thoughts on having just seen 太陽的孩子 Wawa No Cidal. First of all, this is an emotionally charged film that shows some of the real

December 10, 2012

The Sperm Whale’s Brow

To scan the lines of his face, or feel the bumps on the head of this Leviathan; this is a thing which no Physiognomist or Phrenologist has as yet

December 9, 2012

Misbehavior by Lower Officials

It is, however, a standard tactic of the people at the top in China to attribute the ordeals of the populace to misbehavior by lower officials and

November 20, 2012

The Children’s Wing of Budhan Theatre

Towards the end of Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! there is an interview with two boys who had written a play about the Budhan Theatre library: Harry

October 30, 2012

This strangest of islands

I thought, as I looked out to the sea, this island that turned in on itself, and from which water had been banished. The

October 13, 2012

Where are the Crackpots in Treme?

I love Treme, Season 3 seems to have found a kind of groove that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before on TV. Narrative as improvisational jazz.

October 8, 2012

The story of “La Michael”

describes a group of young Amis people who try to convince their elders to name them “La Michael” so as to commemorate

September 4, 2012

This Constant Struggle

I became aware of just how fleeting the sense of happiness was, and how flimsy its basis: a warm restaurant after having come in from the rain, the

July 18, 2012

Letter from a six year old e.e. cummings

From the Wikipedia entry on e.e. cummings: The seeds of Cummings’ unconventional style appear well established even in his earliest work. At age

February 3, 2011

Icelandic Names

Today’s New York Times article about how Swedes are choosing new names for themselves probably belongs in the large folder of non-trend trend

January 9, 2010

Teaching Anthropology “In The Field”

Re-posted from Savage Minds. This is a view of the building where I work. The College of Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University, in

January 26, 2009

Happy 牛 Year!

January 4, 2009

Taipei Biennial ’08

Shashwati and I finally got to the Taipei Biennial, on the last weekend before it closed. That means we missed most of the site-specific pieces

January 4, 2009

Taipei Biennial ’08

Shashwati and I finally got to the Taipei Biennial, on the last weekend before it closed. That means we missed most of the site-specific pieces

September 17, 2008

No Smoking

I’m glad that Taiwan is going smoke-free in public spaces and offices, but this PSA just made me laugh. Its so Taiwanese somehow …

June 11, 2008

Music from Liquor

Yesterday Chhara playwright and documentary filmmaker Dakxin Chhara posted a short “musical documentary” to YouTube which shows an original

April 25, 2008

Technologies of the Self

If you google the letters “GTD” you’ll get seven million hits back. GTD stands for “Getting Things Done,” a time management book, method and

February 7, 2008

Happy New Year!

A very happy year of the (Mickey) mouse to everyone from Taiwan! PS: Its worth noting that this is not a pirated product, but an authentic Disney

December 22, 2007

Understatement

It bears no relation to the main point of his article, which focuses on how economic ideology led the Fed into the current “unmitigated disaster”

November 29, 2007

高一生

The other day I went to see an interesting performance built up around the life and work of Gao Yi-sheng 高一生. Who is Gao Yi-Sheng? There isn’t much

November 16, 2007

KUSO

If you walk around Taipei these days you’ll be sure to see the word KUSO written in big letters all over the place. For instance, this summer there

November 16, 2007

Viacom vs. Daily Show

Does the writer’s strike have you down? Miss The Daily Show? Here are some things you can do: Download Miro. Watch some classic Daily Show clips

October 5, 2007

BBQ

This is one of those “only in Taiwan” stories: Police in Hsinchu 新竹 captured an escaped convict when they noticed a man attending a

July 9, 2007

Ousmane Sembène

I only recently learned that Ousmane Sembène, “the ‘father’ of African Cinema” died last month. Sembène was much more radical, much more of a

July 5, 2007

Responsible Criticism

Reading the reactions to Sicko in the press is an interesting exercise. Almost without exception, including papers from both the left and the right,

July 1, 2007

Edward Yang

I was sad to hear that Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang 楊德昌 died so young. I’d only seen one of his films, Yi yi (“A One and a Two”), but it ranks

June 17, 2007

SiCKO

Here is a quote from FOX News: Filmmaker Michael Moore’s brilliant and uplifting new documentary, “Sicko,” deals with the failings of the U.S.

April 21, 2007

NotCot

If you like cool, wacky, funny, clever design ideas look no further than the NotCot blog. I’ve already downloaded this great clock screensaver. The

April 14, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

Why is it that so many Vonnegut remembrances describe the same experience? If you read Kurt Vonnegut when you were young — read all there was of

March 17, 2007

ze

I know I’m not the only one who will miss Ze, as he ends his one year video blog which rocked the interweb. I think the secret to Ze’s success is

January 25, 2007

Bhojpuri

It is already old news, having been reported in the BBC over a year ago, but I just learned that Hindi movies are on the way out. With is focus on

December 25, 2006

XMas & (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)

One of my students asked why Christmas was spelled X-mas? Here is what Wikipedia has to say: The word “Christ” and its compounds, including

December 25, 2006

XMas & (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)

One of my students asked why Christmas was spelled X-mas? Here is what Wikipedia has to say: The word “Christ” and its compounds, including

December 22, 2006

Aura

In his classical work, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter Benjamin wrote that modern technology would free art from its

December 9, 2006

Bond, Gay Bond

The latest addition to the Bond franchise has one of the best beginnings and one of the worst endings of any Bond film. Fortunately the film doesn’t

December 9, 2006

American Poets

I love this poem by Paul Blackburn which Language Hat found in an online poetry journal called Jacket. It seems to capture the essence of certain

November 25, 2006

Sergei & Uncle Walt

Speaking of the Guardian … a piece in the Observer discuses how Walt Disney was a raving McCarthyite: Disney had a ferocious temper, especially

November 25, 2006

Sergei & Uncle Walt

Speaking of the Guardian … a piece in the Observer discuses how Walt Disney was a raving McCarthyite: Disney had a ferocious temper, especially

November 17, 2006

Pandora

Want to create your own radio station, one which plays music you like? Pandora is amazingly simple to use: you enter the name of an artist whose

November 7, 2006

Champuru

I’ve been working way too hard lately, so I gave myself a mental mini-vacation by watching the entire two season run of Samurai Champloo (混沌武士,

October 19, 2006

Interestingness

I think a lot of the reason why we enjoy reading blogs so much is that what other people are reading, thinking, doing always seems more interesting

October 4, 2006

Closer

I’ve begun spending more and more time thinking about the implications of “fan fiction.” My graduate assistant last year told me she practiced

September 25, 2006

Consuming

A lot of online activity is about establishing identity, and identity is largely equated with what people consume: what music they listen to, what

September 13, 2006

Hanukit

For the traveling Jew: {travel, Menorah, Hannukah}

September 12, 2006

Sort of …

Like thousands of others, I’m hooked on The Show: a one year experiment in video blogging by Ze Frank, a web deisgner/performance artist who lives

September 8, 2006

Gandhi vs. Hoboken

Not having lived there for a long time, I don’t much write about Hoboken on this blog, but that is where I grew up. The setting for On The

September 1, 2006

Alternatives

One thing I’ve learned about the British: they love to tell you alternative routes. If you ask how to get from point A to point B, don’t expect to

September 1, 2006

Existential Exodus

is a book by a family friend. I haven’t gotten my copy yet, so I’ll just quote this Amazon Review by “Motorcycle Boy”: Although

July 30, 2006

All for one …

I had always believed that d’Artagnan and his friends were fighting against Richelieu and his men for a reason, even if I couldn’t remember what it

July 16, 2006

Oil and Sugar

No, this isn’t a post about the Middle East, but rather about the small ways in which something as simple as buying gas can be quite a different

July 9, 2006

TIFF 2006

I love international film festivals, because you see so many movies that you would otherwise never get to see. The Taipei International Film

June 27, 2006

Krrish

The new Bollywood movie, Krrish, is not India’s first Superman movie. That distinction goes to the 1987 film, Superman. However, Kriish, made by

June 23, 2006

Contract!

We are happy to announce some very exciting news … Today we signed a contract with Documentary Educational Resources (DER) to distribute two of our

June 21, 2006

Gujarat Police Academy

One of the most moving experiences we had when shooting the film was a performance arranged for the cadets at the Gujarat Police Academy. It will

June 21, 2006

Abstract Art

This wonderful diagram, made in 1936 by Alfred Barr, appears in Edward Tufte’s new book, Beautiful Evidence. Banksean made a wonderful interactive

June 12, 2006

Porgera

Fellow Savage Mind, Alex Golub, was interviewed extensively for this excellent article in the Ottawa Citizen about conflict between a Canadian

June 8, 2006

Las Meninas

A lot has been written about Las Meninas by Velazquez, most notably Foucault in The Order of Things, and later Searle’s response in “Las Meninas

May 31, 2006

Prasan Ke’

Today I had the pleasure of watching Fan Shan-shun’s 范勝翔 award winning short film Prasan Ke’ 巴拉散 給. The title comes from an Atayal 泰雅 Aborigine term

May 30, 2006

BBS

One of my many summer projects (it currently seems like those precious two months are infinitely long) is to crack into the alternative online world

May 26, 2006

Dhurrie

My office is very spare looking, so to give it some more color I bought a cheap Indian-style dhurrie rug at the local department store. Now,

May 4, 2006

Brokeback

I finally got to see “Brokeback Mountain” today and I was surprised at what a cold film it is. The two main characters, apart from being somewhat

May 3, 2006

Uptown

One of the things I love about riding the NY City Subway is how much individual personality each of the train conductors has. They each have

May 3, 2006

Shimu

Who the hell is this “shimu” everyone is talking about? Well, not everyone — just our department’s always helpful and infinitely

April 20, 2006

Zhan Tianyou

The other day I was giving a talk in which I was discussing David Byrne’s defense of Powerpoint during which I said to my students: “You know, the

April 14, 2006

Leoncie

You gotta love any singer who can sing in English, Hindi, Icelandic, Danish, Arabic, and Konkani! Leoncie makes Björk look quite dull by

April 7, 2006

Striptease

The TV show Lost is full of hidden clues, connections, and mysteries that serious fans can comb for clues. But who has the time? Fortunately for

April 1, 2006

Siraya

The Siraya 西拉雅族 are one of many “Pingpu” 平埔族 or Plains Aborigine peoples in Taiwan. Living on the West Coast, they were among the first to be

March 29, 2006

Uyghur Pop

Via Michael Manning, the group that’s been bringing down the house in Uyghur discos all over Xinjiang, all the way from Uzbekistan, the beautiful

March 29, 2006

Mishegass

Another link from Michael Manning, who asks the ever important question: Why does China need so many people trained in Jewish law? {china,

March 25, 2006

Binglang Xi Shi

“Betelnut Beauties” 檳榔西施 are a unique Taiwan phenomenon that have garnered a fair amount of attention on the blogsphere, including three posts

March 20, 2006

Ma

From the personals section of the Hindustan Times: To Rajitha: I want you to say that I love you and I miss you. Want to know who I am mail ma at

March 11, 2006

Budehan (Budhan in Chinese)

Dakxin Bajranage’s play, Budhan has been up on the web for some time. The wonderful thing about making art and literature freely available on the

March 2, 2006

Regnal Years

A few weeks ago I dashed off an e-mail wishing one of my new colleagues a “Happy Chinese New Year.” I got back a note politely informing me that she

March 1, 2006

Payments Received

It seems that one stamp is not enough. It is a little out of focus, but you can see they gave me a second stamp to use to sign all “Payments

January 27, 2006

4 Meme

I’ve never been tagged for one of these blogger memes before, but now that M E-L’s tagged me I have no choice but to join the borg: {four,

January 21, 2006

Unembedded

About a year ago I blogged about coming across an online exhibit including photos of an old friend of mine, Thorne Anderson, who I hadn’t seen in a

January 20, 2006

Cultural Center

It is hard to understate the dramatic nature of the transformation Budhan Theatre has wrought on Chharangar. In the past, only policemen and

January 18, 2006

Colonne Morris

Guest post by tf There are 773 of these columns in Paris: Soon their number will drop to 550… Technorati Tags: Berlin, colonne Morris,

December 20, 2005

Poonam

When I took this picture I didn’t know the name of the girl. Now I do. It is Poonam, and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. The thing is,

December 5, 2005

Masala

ABCDLady has a nice profile of Shashwati: For the future, Talukdar hopes to turn a screenplay she just finished into a film. Double Vision is a

December 4, 2005

Hydrant Envy

Guest post by tf Does Paris suffer from a lack of fire hydrants? Look, not a hydrant in sight: It took me several years of living here to

December 3, 2005

Sang-Froid

Guest post by tf I often hear people in France expressing fascination with guns in the United States. Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine was

November 27, 2005

Bruce Lee

The people of the Balkans may not be able to agree about much, but they can agree about one thing: they all love Bruce Lee! I was going to blog

November 19, 2005

Overdetermined

The term overdetermined, as used in social theory, was introduced by Althusser, who took it from Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Wikipedia offers

November 16, 2005

Kurt Engfehr

We are very pleased to announce that Kurt Engfehr has agreed to be an advisor on the film. Kurt was co-producer and editor on both Bowling For

November 12, 2005

第一賣冰

There is an old saying in Taiwan: “The number one job is selling ice desserts and the number two is being a doctor.” I personally wonder just how

November 8, 2005

India Together

Tarun Jain interviewed me for this India Together piece about the Budhan Theatre and the film. Last year Tarun wrote this excellent article on the

November 7, 2005

Neurobiology vs. Psychoanalysis

My brother reports on how the media is reacting to the riots in France: My favorite TV program for the examination of television, Arrêt sur Images,

October 30, 2005

Digital Bollywood

For years there has been talk about how Hollywood would abandon celluloid once and for all, digitally transmitting films directly to movie theaters.

October 30, 2005

Distractions

Words to live by: I’m very paranoid about any metric of productivity. One person’s wasted time is another person’s productivity. For most of my

October 28, 2005

Nude Weather

My brother, upon reading about my idea for comparative weather reports, reminded me of another innovative weather reporting phenomenon: nude weather

October 27, 2005

JustGive.org

Thanks to a friend I discovered JustGive.org, which allows you to donate to charities and non-profits online. This is great for us, because we’ve

October 19, 2005

Morally Complex

Amardeep wrote a short review of Acting Like a Thief: I downloaded and watched the clip, and would definitely recommend it: another glimpse on how

October 18, 2005

Zeimo Zeiyang

賊模賊樣—以劇場對抗 That’s how Zonble translated Acting Like a Thief into Chinese on his blog. This is great — now we need more

October 17, 2005

Acting Like a Thief

Announcing Acting Like a Thief! Now available as a free BitTorrent download or, for a $50 donation, as a DVD. Acting Like a Thief is a short film

October 1, 2005

Community Access TV

OK, I’ll admit that I consider most community access television shows to be a joke, especially Rabbi Mordechai Friedman’s “Judaism, The Series”

October 1, 2005

Brooklyn to Pristina

I haven’t yet seen the new movie Lord of War, where Nicholas Cage plays an international arms dealer, but I have seen POV’s excellent documentary

September 22, 2005

iTunes vs. Phil Schaap

If you don’t know who Phil Schaap is, you don’t listen to jazz radio in New York City. But this post isn’t really about Phil Schaap the man, it is

September 15, 2005

Hooch and Hamlet

This December, Shashwati and I are going to India to shoot a documentary film about the residents of one city’s slum who are using theatre to fight

September 13, 2005

Garrison Keillor

I can’t stand A Prairie Home Companion, but it wasn’t something I was going to blog about until Ish brought my attention to the fact that Garrison

September 4, 2005

Super Girls

I’ve been meaning to blog about “Super Girls” for a while, fortunately, Frank Dai has done such a good round-up of Super Girls coverage that I don’t

August 28, 2005

Hong Kong v. Bollywood

Writing in the Asia Times, Zafar Anjum explores why China’s film industry has netted so much love from Hollywood, while India hasn’t produced a

August 18, 2005

Catch-22

Just watched the film, Catch-22. I read the book so long ago that I didn’t feel any need to compare it to the original, and so quite liked it.

August 15, 2005

Sports

Anyone who knows me will be shocked to find that I’ve been writing about sports, but that is just what I’ve been doing over at Savage Minds. First a

August 12, 2005

Tackiness

Donald Trump has a blog! I wouldn’t get all excited, except for the fact that it is hilarious. Here is Donald Trump on Kozlowski (the Tyco CEO

August 10, 2005

Big Eyes

Amazing, one of the most famous photographs in the world, and I had never seen it before. (via Jonathan Dresner at Frog in a Well) {china,

August 3, 2005

Charles Sobhraj

Shashwati has been written up in the South Asian press! His eventful life makes for a perfect movie script — serial murders,

August 2, 2005

Fruit Chan

I’ve been wanting to write about Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan 陳果 for a while, but I always get stuck. I finally figured out the problem: his films

August 1, 2005

Seediq Bale

Back in January I read about how Taiwanese filmmaker Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖) is planning on making the “first Taiwanese epic,” about an Aborigine

July 23, 2005

Oompa-loompanproletariat

After spending some time worrying about the exploitation of Oompa-Loompa labor, I was happy to learn about efforts on their behalf. These incldue:

July 20, 2005

Scotty

I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that nearly every obituary out there is misquoting James Kirk, who never actually said “Beam me up,

July 16, 2005

Taiwanese Food

I’m glad to have discovered this wonderful gallery of Taiwanese food by Taiwan Tiger. It is a project I have always thought of doing myself, so

July 14, 2005

Second-Generation

I haven’t read the book, or seen the movie, but I can assure you that they will be issuing new printings of both versions of Hanif Kureishi’s My Son

July 9, 2005

TV Dads

While Kevin Drum is worrying about “Doofus Dad Syndrome,” he’s missing the bigger picture. It may be true that today’s TV dad’s are more likely to

July 9, 2005

Cyberpunk

Zonble recently recorded this song, simply entitled: “No, I won’t fix your computer.” It sounds something like what the Ramones would sound like if

July 1, 2005

Flying Rodentalism

Shashwati left it to me to discuss the strange orientalism of Batman Begins. Let me start with a brief movie review: It was good, but I wasn’t

July 1, 2005

Sumo Kitty

No, there is no sumo wrestling Hello Kitty yet (at least not that I know of), but there is women’s sumo wrestling in Japan: An interesting, if

June 30, 2005

War of the Donuts

Two things which I thought were true, but are not: That JFK made a jelly donut of himself in Berlin. That Orson Wells caused a panic in the

June 16, 2005

D’oh!

This map alone will make sure that this episode of the Simpsons will be banned in China. Notice how Taiwan is a different color and written in a

June 9, 2005

Tollywood

It seems that the word Bollywood derives from Tollywood. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that ‘Tollywood’, as a name for the Calcutta film

May 16, 2005

Trailers

I’ve written before about how much the voiceovers used for foreign-language movie trailers annoy me because they try to hide the fact that these

May 14, 2005

616

It seems that Satanists have been dialing the wrong number all these years. It isn’t 666, but 616. I don’t know what area code 666 is, but 616 is in

May 13, 2005

Aardman

I can’t help but be excited about John Cleese related news … and with Wallace and Gromit mixed in, well, lets just say my expectations are probably

May 6, 2005

Inuktitut

You realize how far Canadian aboriginal media is ahead of the rest of the world when their biggest controversy is whether they should dub or

May 5, 2005

The Burka Band

are one of the first pop groups to emerge in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Performing on Western instruments (electric guitar, drum

April 24, 2005

The Interpreter

I honestly don’t remember much about Colin Pine. He was a classmate of mine at ICLP in Taipei, where I studied Chinese for a year. Studying Chinese

April 16, 2005

Sin Ciné

I was surprised by Sin City. I thought I would be bored by the story but enjoy the visuals. After all, so much had been made about how brilliantly

April 16, 2005

Flickrology

Last year, when I was offered the opportunity to teach a course on anthropology and photography at Haverford College, I immediately knew I wanted to

April 14, 2005

Public Access

In March, I posted a letter by a friend, Thom Powers, to Hillary Clinton. He suggested that the solution to concerns about sex and violence in the

April 14, 2005

Paris Hilton

I’m sick and tired of all these attacks on Paris Hilton! She is not simply some rich heiress who can be used as a convenient excuse not to repeal

April 13, 2005

African Natives

It was just a matter of time before something like this happened (via the Taipei Kid). Taiwan on Tuesday apologized for offending African

April 7, 2005

Space Shuttle

A recent Business Week article about the sole surviving pinball machine manufacturer, Gary Stern, seems as good an excuse as any to write about my

March 26, 2005

Last Supper

This ad, by French clothing company, Marithe et François Girbaud has caused a big stir in Europe: It wasn’t just that it was based on Leonardo’s

March 19, 2005

Grimsey

I’m not much of a fan of Bobby Fischer (for obvious reasons), but I thought the fact that he is getting a visa from Iceland offered a chance to

March 18, 2005

ISBN

When I travelled in mainland China in the late 80s there was a black market in currency, trading government issued currency specially printed for

March 17, 2005

… in Translation

I have to admit being completely hooked on ABC’s TV series Lost. One of the amazing things about the show is that the writers and producers have

March 12, 2005

TV Violence

A friend wrote this letter to Hillary Clinton, in response to this story. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton United States Senate 476 Russell Senate

March 8, 2005

Mad Hatters

Listening to an NPR show on new legislation to regulate mercury, I heard this: Mad as a hatter. Years ago mercury was used to stiffen fur in hat

March 4, 2005

I ♥ NY, but..

Drew Beck came up with these stickers: {new york, nyc, ny, heart, sticker, ♥}

March 1, 2005

Blue Horizon

For years I would bike or drive up Broad Street to classes at Temple. On the way I would always pass the Blue Horizon, but I never went in. I don’t

March 1, 2005

Complacency

My friend Joe Sacco, already well known for his cartoon journalism in Palestine and Bosnia has a piece in this week’s Guardian about his month

February 28, 2005

Escher

(via Alas, a Blog, who found it here) UPDATE: Flickr is great! I found another one using the Flickr “escher” tag! {photos, m.c. escher, legos}

February 26, 2005

Google, the movie

Via Fables of the Reconstruction: Get movie listings on your cell phone or on your computer from Google. {google, movies, sms}

February 26, 2005

Roundup

Around the web: Who the heck is Kurban Said? Every Calvin and Hobbes (via Incoming Signals) Fascinating Occupations Seven Mistakes Superheroines

February 25, 2005

Googlism

Via Jonathan Benda I discovered Googlism, a site that “will find out what Google.com thinks of you” (at least circa 2004, at which point Google

February 24, 2005

The Crackers

I really was going to go see The Gates today, but you know — it was cold, and I was tired, so I took a nap instead… To make up

February 21, 2005

Dissertation

No need to wait for the book, the curious can download my dissertation right now: Learning “Local” Languages: Passive Revolution, Language Markets,

February 21, 2005

Chronotope

Afghanistan is unique, utterly unlike any other war-ravaged landscape. In Bosnia, Dresden or the Somme for example, the devastation appears to

February 16, 2005

Feta

I’m slightly lactose intolerant, so Feta cheese (and other goat’s milk cheeses) is one of the few cheeses I can enjoy. My favorite kind of Feta is

February 14, 2005

Sentimentality

One of my favorite films of the past few years is the poetic “Elephant” (2003, Gus Van Sant). It was widely attacked by critics for not taking a

February 10, 2005

Kung Fu Hustle

Why, oh why, do they make us wait so long? It took forever for Shaolin Soccer to make it to the U.S., will we have to wait as long for Kung Fu

February 10, 2005

Parrish

I’m teaching at Haverford College this year. Not many famous people went to Haverford, a very small school, but one of them was Maxfield Parrish.

January 29, 2005

You Bet Your Life

Robert Dwan, who directed the show “You Bet Your Life,” with Groucho Marx, on both the radio and television, died last Friday at the age of 89. I

January 22, 2005

Rasranjan’s

We spent most of our time in Ahmedabad in what might be called a “slum ghetto,” but everyone always talks about what a wealthy city it is. So, to

January 18, 2005

Gangster, MD

Last March I wrote about a great Hindi movie, a comedy called Munnabhai M.B.B.S., which is something of a remake of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to

January 12, 2005

Departure

Some random observations from the trip as we prepare to depart from India… Conversation on a street corner: Stranger: Hello sir, what country? Me:

January 11, 2005

Dehradun

The last leg of this trip has been a bit unfortunate, as I’ve spent about a third of the time in bed, either due to a bad cold I picked up in

January 7, 2005

DNT

In my last post I wrote about India’s Adivasis, or “Scheduled Tribes.” Accounting for over 85 million people, they account for the bulk of India’s

January 6, 2005

Adivasi

India is a settler state, like Australia, the United States, South Africa, Israel, Canada, Taiwan, and many other states where the indigenous

January 2, 2005

Bhangis

I find myself hesitant to write this post because it touches on two issues that are often harped upon in the Western press when writing about India:

December 27, 2004

Ahmedabad

Nobody uses street names in Ahmedabad. I’ve not seen street addresses of any kind. Directions are always in relation to nearby landmarks: Across

December 8, 2004

Tattoo

Right now I’m double checking all the Chinese text in my dissertation, so I was happy to see this post in Languagelog: Hanzi Smatter is a blog

November 19, 2004

Bagpipes

Talking about stress, one of the endlessly fascinating things about humans are all the creative ways we come up with to let off a bit of steam.

November 18, 2004

Lumix

Even though I’m not yet done with my thesis (three weeks to go!) I decided to reward myself for passing my oral defense by purchasing a Panasonic

November 14, 2004

Bollywood English

When I first met Suketu Mehta he was deep in conversation with someone who was grilling him about his experiences writing the Bollywood action

November 2, 2004

Food Fight

Sorry, with my thesis due so soon I’ve been negligent on covering the connection between food and politics in Taiwan. But how could I have missed

October 30, 2004

Mosh

Mark Liberman on Marshall Mather: If Mosh helps energize voting among American youth, it’ll be a triumph. But I’m still a little uneasy about all

October 29, 2004

Bollywood Terror

Shashwati has decided to bypass the festival circuit and post some of her short pieces directly over the internet. You can see the first one here:

October 27, 2004

Download Fahrenheit 9/11

If you haven’t seen it, Download “Fahrenheit 9/11″ here. Give it to your friends to watch before the election!

October 16, 2004

Jon Stewart

If you haven’t seen the clip of Jon Stewart appearing on Crossfire, you can find links to download it here. I wanted to comment on something Jon

October 14, 2004

Li Tianbing

In 1946 Li Tianbing stole his grandmother’s cow and bought a camera with the proceeds. Some 300,000 photos later, he is being feted as one of his

October 10, 2004

vidblogs

I guess it was just a matter of time. Photo blogs have been around for a long time already (I’ve even added one to my sidebar), as well as MP3

October 3, 2004

Books as Blogs

I recently posted about how the diaries of Samuel Pepys were being released as a blog. Well, today I discovered a bunch of other sites releasing

October 2, 2004

Daisuke Inoue

Who is Daisuke Inoue? He’s only the guy who invented karaoke! Born in Osaka in 1940, he grew up in the same area where he now works, Nishinomiya,

September 29, 2004

Asian Squat

Do you know how to do the Asian Squat?

September 29, 2004

Politeness Button

Reading this NY Times article about how parents and students have thwarted attempts by schools to ban cell phones reminded me of an incident in the

September 28, 2004

Upriver

I just don’t seem to be able to get out of Vietnam… A friend has co-produced a movie on the story Kerry has been trying hard to avoid

September 25, 2004

珍珠奶茶

I wrote a post back in March about how Taiwanese politics was all about food. Well, today the BBC reports that the ministry of defense is responding

September 24, 2004

Yang Huanyi

China’s last inheritress of the mysterious Nushu language, probably the world’s only female-specific language, died at her central

September 23, 2004

George Bush

Not the President, or his father, but the brother of their ancestor, Timothy Bush. I just visited the New York Public Library’s exhibit: Jewes in

September 22, 2004

Pepysdiary.com

In my article on blogging, I commented on the links between contemporary blogging and diary writing in the seventeenth century: This is not unlike

September 20, 2004

Smoke

via chaotic intransient prose bursts, a Japanese campaign “to promote correct smoking behavior” (as opposed to trying to get people to quit

September 17, 2004

Najaf Treat

The first day after 9-11 my Shashwati and I, worried by stories we had heard about a racist backlash, went to eat at our local Afghan kabob house to

September 15, 2004

Natsugusa

Much ado about seventeen syllables, and a lot of fun!

September 12, 2004

10 Weeks

MoveOn is doing a series of ads, each one by a famous director, for the 10 weeks counting down to the election. The ads are decent and effective,

September 7, 2004

Bride Song

As of December 2003, 247,966 Taiwanese had married foreigners, most of these were men marrying women from Mainland China (over 50%), Vietnam,

September 7, 2004

Arrival Day

From Jonathan Edelstein: Welcome to the second annual Arrival Day Blogburst, commemorating the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam on

September 5, 2004

Fear

The American Museum of the Moving Image has an excellent online exhibit on the history of political advertising. I especially liked there section on

August 29, 2004

Mazel

Via Sepia Mutiny an article on Yiddish speaking Gujaratis in Antwerp: In Antwerp, Jews and Indians are so embedded in each other’s lives that many

August 28, 2004

Posters

Enough about T-shirts. The RNC is in town and its poster time: And, from the New York Times: Scott Sala, a Republican with a blog called Slant

August 27, 2004

Mono No Aware

In September of last year Jonathon Delacour wrote eloquently about the role of “sadness” in Japanese aesthetics: It’s this “aesthetic empathy of

August 21, 2004

Whorf

I’ve been holding off writing a post about Benjamin Lee Whorf thinking that I would wait until I had time to do the topic justice; but the

August 20, 2004

Cheese Steak

First, a little background: A cheese steak sandwich is not really a steak at all — it is a sandwich made with chipped steak,

August 19, 2004

River of Fire

I’ve just finished reading Qurratulain Hyder’s River of Fire. Written in 1959 in Urdu, and translated into English by the author, this sprawling

August 19, 2004

Fundamentalism

I’m finally reading Mamdani’s book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (discussed previously here and here), and

August 18, 2004

Gold!

Mariel Zagunis won the first gold medal for the United States in modern fencing history! In her final match, Zagunis commanded the bout against Xue

August 18, 2004

rhodolite demonstrable codfish

A poem I composed from today’s SPAM “subject” lines: rhodolite demonstrable codfish Re: Everything went giddy with Are you a loser? buddy,deal

August 18, 2004

Coming Out

August 15, 2004

Talk to US

addresses a critical problem: US policies impact the whole world, but non-Americans have few ways to communicate directly with

August 14, 2004

Smart

Keeth Smart that is. He is the first U.S. Saber fencer to be ranked #1 in the world. This isn’t going to be like his coach Peter Westbrook, who won

August 14, 2004

芭比娃娃

That’s Chinese for “Barbie Doll”. There are a bunch of museums that feature Barbie dolls: There is the Hawaii Loves Barbie Doll Museum, with about

August 13, 2004

Dancing Girls

Because when you think “Superman,” you think “dancing girls.” More at Shaswati’s blog and the Sepia Mutiny. Meanwhile, will Christ play Superman?

August 10, 2004

Chinese Frog Ritual

I always like looking at what web searches lead people to my blog. This is certainly the strangest one I’ve ever seen. Someone used MSN’s search

August 6, 2004

Request for Photos

Organizers of an exhibition in Australia are looking for photos from around the world from the February 2003 anti-war march. It seems like a great

August 5, 2004

Impartial

From Teller’s review of Penn’s new book: Finally, in the interest of full disclosure: six times a week onstage in Las Vegas, Penn fires a .357

August 2, 2004

Mysterious Arabic Woman

I haven’t seen too many of Sakina Jaffrey’s films. I first saw her in the brilliant Canadian film, Masala, where she plays the daughter of her true

August 2, 2004

Making War

Does the U.S. go to war because it wants to, or because it has to? Jonathon Delacour has a thought provoking post on the subject, based, in part, on

July 29, 2004

Vigilante

The New York Times reports that an award-winning documentary filmmaker was arrested in Afghanistan for allegedly participating in vigilante

July 29, 2004

Reality TV

“Labor and Materials” is Iraq’s answer to “Extreme Home Makeover” and the country’s first reality TV show. In 15-minute episodes, broken windows

July 28, 2004

Skazeetch

I’m very happy to know about the Don Martin Dictionary, having grown up on a steady diet of Don Martin sound effects. (Both LanguageLog and,

July 28, 2004

Faking It

Shashwati has two posts about fakes. One on the mockumentary “The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan,” and another on a woman who is accused of

July 18, 2004

Robots

It is now commonplace, thanks especially to the widespread popularity of the book Chaos, that a simple set of rules can produce complex results. But

June 27, 2004

Opening Weekend

“Fahrenheit 9/11,” has made over $21.8 million in three days. It took Moore’s Oscar winning “Bowling for Columbine,” nine months to earn $21.5

June 17, 2004

Shashwati

I’m very happy to announce a new blog that you should all immediately add to your blogrolls, feed readers, bookmarks, etc. Shashwati’s Blog starts

June 15, 2004

Robes

On the recommendation of LanguageHat, I’ve been reading Abdelrahman Munif’s Cities of Salt trilogy. I just received the second volume, The Trench,

June 10, 2004

CPB

In the U.K. the BBC receives about $160 per person, giving it an annual budget of close to $4 billion. In America, the Corporation for PUblic

June 9, 2004

Photo Ban

The NYC subway system is considering a ban on photography on its trains and platforms — despite the long and honourable tradition of shipping

June 7, 2004

Death

There is nothing particularly original in proclaiming Bergman’s The Seventh Seal to be one of the greatest movies of all time; but I feel compelled

June 3, 2004

Bombay Dreams

I rarely (never) go to see Broadway musicals, so perhaps I am not the best person to be criticizing them, but a friend got us free tickets to Bombay

June 2, 2004

Baring-Gould

One of my prized possessions is my large, two volume, Annotated Sherlock Holmes, edited by William Baring-Gould. Although most of the time it serves

May 21, 2004

FTrain

This is a nice illustration about New York’s F-Train. Here is a small sample of the larger picture (click to see the whole thing): The artist,

May 7, 2004

Haboub(a)

I have serious problems with a theme that has been running through reports on the Abu Ghraib torture photographs. The most elaborate version of this

May 7, 2004

Take Out

You really have to go over to Language log and read this wonderful post by Bill Poser: As a linguist and connoisseur of Chinese food it was clearly

May 7, 2004

Meritocracy

LanguageHat has a wonderful analysis of a recent poem by John Ashbery, and how it differs from the poet’s early work. What caught my eye were the

May 5, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004 Disney Has Blocked the Distribution of My New Film… by Michael Moore Friends, I would have hoped by now that I would be

May 3, 2004

Whoopee

Call it the whoopee cushion doctrine. It is hard to believe that the government now regards flatulence jokes, the lamest staple of gag gift stores,

May 1, 2004

Dogville

Some thoughts upon seeing Lars von Trier’s latest film: It was brilliant to shoot the film on a set rather than on location. When making a film

April 28, 2004

Ice Age

When I read this back in February, my first thought was “Oh s–t! We are all going to die.” My second thought was, “That would make a great movie!”

April 20, 2004

T-Shirt

It seems that there are three major factors leading to the widespread popularity of the T-Shirt: war, Hollywood, and politics. According to The

April 15, 2004

Nong Thoom

BoingBoing seems to have linked to the website for the movie Beautiful Boxer, mostly because of the tagline: He fights like a man so he can become

April 13, 2004

Subtitles

I was just complaining the other day about how much the voiceovers they use in trailers for foreign language films annoy me. It is as if they are

April 11, 2004

Counting

In a review of the recent London revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1972 play Jumpers, which I just saw in previews on Broadway, Michael Billington writes:

April 10, 2004

Anticipation

I wrote about Shaolin Soccer on this site back in August of 2003, and I only got to see the film today! All I can say is that it was worth the wait!

April 7, 2004

Scooter

One thing about almost any large city in a developing country — you’ll see everyone riding around on scooters. One of the

April 5, 2004

Content

Via both BoingBoing and LanguageLog, a very disturbing story about how the Academy of Art University in San Francisco is attempting to control the

March 27, 2004

Food

Everything in Taiwan is about food — even politics: With the pan-blue camp’s post-election protests going into their sixth day,

March 23, 2004

Text

I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between text and image. I even taught a course about it (PDF download) a few years ago. Many artists

March 20, 2004

Unprofessional

I haven’t watched Dennis Miller’s show since I saw him brown-nosing Arnold on his first show back in January. So I was happy to see Eric Alterman

March 11, 2004

Thumbs

In an interesting post on Japanese cell-phone e-mailing (not instant messaging, it turns out), Mark Liberman said something which made my thumbs

March 7, 2004

M.B.B.S.

An M.B.B.S. is the Indian medical degree, the equivalent of the American M.D. However, in the latest Bollywood hit, Munnabhai M.B.B.S., it comes to

March 3, 2004

Shluukh

A useful aramaic phrase: Shluukh kleelaa d-kuubayk, pquud. Laa meshkakh naa d-ekhzey l-ketaan tsuur- aathaa. Which translates as: Could you take

February 27, 2004

Murphy

I’ve only seen Murphy beds in movies, and then usually as part of some joke where someone accidentally gets folded away with the bed in the closet.

February 22, 2004

Shadows

A fun story about hunting down the lost original version of Shadows, Cassavetes brilliant first feature: Because Cassavetes made most of his movies

February 20, 2004

Encyclopedia

When I was little I loved the Encyclopedia Brown detective stories, so I was happy to see this clever use of them to make fun of Bush. But then I

February 19, 2004

Vérité

Truth died a little today. I know it sounds trite, but how else to talk about the death of Jean Rouch, who died in a car crash in Niger at the age

February 16, 2004

Alps

On an average “20 Indian films are shot in various locations of Switzerland every year.” No wonder Bollywood producer Yash Chopra was recently given

February 15, 2004

Joyce

This is an upsetting abuse of copyright laws. On what grounds can anyone justify giving Joyce’s heirs 70+ more years of copyright to his work?

February 13, 2004

Recovery

I’m doing OK after my operation. I’m not taking any pain killers, and I even went for a short walk around the block this afternoon. Physical trauma

January 29, 2004

Igry

Do your friend’s get uncomfortable and embarrassed when you use the word “blog” in a sentence? I have noticed that mine do, and so I sometimes try

January 28, 2004

Miller

I watched a bit of Dennis Miller’s new CNBC show the other night. I nearly choked on my own bile. He had his head so far up Schwarzenegger’s ass

January 20, 2004

Bandanna

Now the french are proposing to ban Bandannas, in addition to “Islamic headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses.” I posted over the

January 19, 2004

Guotie

As an anthropologist, I’m embarrassed to admit that I still get very confused by Chinese kinship terms. So I felt better reading about the the

January 18, 2004

Crore

The word “crore” is Indian English for 10,000,000. (One crore = 100 lakhs.) I first encountered this word in articles about the Bollywood film

January 5, 2004

Bite

Language Hat recently quoted Kafka on books: What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved

January 5, 2004

Morality

There was some discussion about this essay on the movie The Return of the King, over at Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey. Before I comment on this

January 1, 2004

Nostalgia

We celebrated the New Year by watching Fellini’s masterful Amarcord, in which he brilliantly uses nostalgia to discuss the fascist Italy of his

December 27, 2003

Untouched

In an otherwise innocuous article by the BBC about Amis Aborigine song and dance from Taiwan, they write: The tribe was virtually left untouched

December 23, 2003

Plot

Daniel Mendelsohn did not like Tarantion’s Kill Bill. Why? Because there was no “psychological motivation” and a “tenacious plot”: For Tarantino,

December 22, 2003

Recherche

This chart shows the Languages Used to Access Google from March 2001 till November 2003. There isn’t much explanation of what this means, but I

December 22, 2003

Change

I can hardly bare to read the New York Times anymore. Their reporting seems to have rapidly deteriorated of late. Perhaps due to the new editor? The

December 22, 2003

Separation

I’ve been trying to understand how it is that the French can feel so strongly that Muslim women shouldn’t have the right to wear the Hijab (I wish

December 21, 2003

Monkeys

Do you remember this advertisement from the back of comics you read when you were a kid? I sure do, which is why my attention was caught by the NY

December 8, 2003

Pareve

I’ve never been overly picky about my vegetarianism. I eat seafood, eggs, and often eat food cooked together with meat dishes as long as I can’t

December 8, 2003

Samurai

After reading Scott Tobias scathing review of the movie “The Last Samurai” I personally have no interest in seeing it. A coffee-table book posing

December 2, 2003

BookCrossing

When I was in college I took a year off and backpacked around Asia for a while. I’m glad I did it then, since it is a lot more expensive to travel

November 21, 2003

Kobayashi

So how does Kobayashi, who weighs only 145 lbs., beat the 408-pound Edward Jarvis at a hot dog eating competition? (Note: Kobayashi’s competitor in

November 2, 2003

Spin

There has been a lot of discussion of late about the Lakoff interview on how the left needs to learn how to better “frame” issues, in order to

October 31, 2003

Fries

I wasn’t going to post anything this week — as I’m away from my broadband connection in the city. However, this study (which I

October 28, 2003

Mary

I don’t usually much care for theology — but two articles I’ve read lately caught my attention. In today’s NY Times there is a

October 23, 2003

Eminem

Calpundit brought my attention to this post by Matthew Yglesias, where he points out that the New York Review of Books article on Eminem fails to

October 22, 2003

Nascar

Inequality is increasing, but those getting the short end of the stick — blue collar workers — are largely

October 17, 2003

Gummy

FYI: Soft and chewy candy is generally categorized by the industry as either “gummy” if it has a primarily gelatin base, or “juju,” if it has

October 10, 2003

Ozu

Lincoln Center is having an Ozu film festival. Although I know how important Ozu is for directors like Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki, Wim Wenders,

October 3, 2003

Tabloid

Those of us who worry about media consolidation don’t usually concern ourselves with the Tabloids. After all, nobody takes those seriously, right?

October 2, 2003

Flood

From a poem by Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), who is one of the front-runners for this year’s Nobel Prize in literature: The Flood /2 Via Moorish

September 29, 2003

Ranking

I have long been amazed at the number of stupid T.V. shows that are made up of meaningless lists. The ultimate example of this is Rank. Each episode

September 29, 2003

Reviews

Ever wonder just exactly where all those editorial reviews from Amazon.com come from? Slate has the inside scoop: You’ve probably never read these

September 21, 2003

Bound

Rich women on the Upper East Side are having foot surgery to better fit into their shoes: Dr. Suzanne Levine is a clinical podiatrist on

September 17, 2003

Happiness

Jonathon Delacour, writing about Japanese aesthetics, says the following: One of the reasons for my strong interest in Japanese literature and

September 1, 2003

Censored

A new film about Cyprus confirms my belief that most people in the world would get along just fine if the politicians left them alone.

August 30, 2003

Flashback

A huge amount of discussion over at Crooked Timber, and now Calpudit, about the use of Time Travel in fictional narratives. I have to say that I

August 29, 2003

Manifesto

I’m a big fan of manifestos, so I was very pleased to see languagehat had translated the Dada Manifesto. Here is a sample: Which is to say: the

August 28, 2003

Neon

Pictured here is a typical Taipei street scene, captured wonderfully by a computer science professor at Columbia. (I found the picture using

August 21, 2003

Bushiban

Anyone who has lived in East Asia knows about bushiban. That’s the Mandarin word used in Taiwan for these “cram schools” which have their

August 16, 2003

Soccer

After the crossover hit Bend it Like Beckham, comes another soccer film that I hope does as well. This film is by Stephen Chow (Chow Sing-Chi), the

August 14, 2003

Mermaids

Its funny how things seem to happen in the news just when I’ve seen a film about the topic. This weekend I watched John Sayles latest film, Sunshine

August 13, 2003

Inspiration

One myth that never seems to go away is the “divine inspiration” of the artist. People refuse to believe that artists work hard, study, take notes,

August 9, 2003

Science

The split between the GOP and the scientific community began during the administration of Richard Nixon. In the late 1960s and early 1970s,

August 9, 2003

Gaydar

I was reading Noy Thrupkaew’s discussion of recent Gay-themed TV shows in The American Prospect, when this caught my eye [my emphasis]: Indeed, the

August 4, 2003

Disco

I was still in elementary school in the 70s, so disco meant awful school dances at which you avoided doing anything with girls. So I didn’t really

July 31, 2003

Bias

Politicians love blaming violence on the media, but today Wolfowitz gives it a new twist: In an interview with Fox News, Mr Wolfowitz accused

July 28, 2003

Avon

If the word “Avon” makes you think of a cosmetics company then you are clearly not a fan of the 80’s British Sci-Fi show “Blake’s 7“! Blake, the

July 27, 2003

Kirov

Last night I went to see the Kirov Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. This was part of a series called “Petersburg on the Hudson”

July 23, 2003

Cossack

Growing up the only thing I knew about Cossacks was that they raped and killed Jews. Recently, reading Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel, I realized how

July 3, 2003

Albums

It seems that some artists are boycotting the Apple Music Store because they won’t sell albums unless the artists also agree to let Apple sell the

July 1, 2003

Marriage

One of the interesting things about the recent Supreme Court decision on the Texas anti-Sodomy law was the way in which it went out of its way to

June 29, 2003

Irony

The Guardian UK has an excellent post today on Irony. Not only addressing a “number of misconceptions” about the word, especially the one that