1 minute photography tips

.. by none other than Steve McCurry, or the guy who took this picture

The Afghan Girl

Here are his 7 humble, experienced and usable tips on photography. Each is about a minute long. For me they essentially all talk about finding your voice, staying curious, and being human.

1. Don’t forget to say hello


2. Unusual vantage points


3. How to fit in


4. Follow your noooose


5. Honesty and Humor


6. Don’t think too much


7. Solitary endeavor



It’s hard to dislike much of anything about Scandinavia. Sometimes I think it is like Neverland but without pixies and with whaling, so I know it is not perfect. But I can dream.

Speaking of dream, Beach House provides fine examples of a genre called dream pop. Tranquil and airy. Try Zebra.

For a real treat, listen to their hit single Norway which is utterly spellbinding from 3:25 onwards; an excellent buildup to a perfect conclusion. You could also hear it as you watch the panoramic time lapse video on Norway.



PS. I laughed out so loud when I saw Jim Rash mimic the silly move by Angelina Jolie when she presented the Oscar. Definitely a highlight.

Stephen Fry and the ways of the jungle

It is difficult to not admire something about Stephen Fry. If his humor, presentation, wit, acting, or writing don’t work for you… how about his cuddleability? Some how I feel no one will be harmed if they approach him on the street and give him a big hug.

Got to know about this interview thanks to ManchesterLab. Stephen talks with Tony Jones on Australia’s telly show Late Line last year. Topics include everything from Steve Jobs, Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), population, atheism, being gay, Christianity, evolution, science, groupy who wants to have his baby, zoology, and other usual stuff. He does go off the topic sometimes but cuddly people are allowed this much.

You can jump to my favorite 8 minutes of the interview from 16:00 to 24:30 on the unforgettable ride of sleeping in a jungle and how animals learn to forgive humans. Wonderful stuff.

Don’t go bananas over apple — the real Steve Jobs

Most of the buzz around Steve Jobs and his wondrous contribution to the world has gone now but I still think it useful to keep things in perspective on the man. He was not a messiah, crusader, or even a genius. He was just very good at what he did.

Apple does not come out with the smartest products. They tweak things that are already out and capitalize on their cool underdog factor.

He was an innovator, not inventor. He was temperamental and could get loud and rude with friends, colleagues, or even nurses.

He borrowed the characteristic features of the Macintosh—the mouse and the icons on the screen—from the engineers at Xerox PARC, after his famous visit there, in 1979. The first portable digital music players came out in 1996. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001.

This is from a piece in The New Yorker by none other than Malcom Gladwell on the other side of Jobs.

I have nothing against the man. It was sad the way he passed but it is still important to see all the sides of something.

Lost keys

Words of Wisdom: if ever you lose your car keys in the middle of a busy market… check ALL your pockets first.

Before you start fretting and retrace all your steps to the bakery store you entered a minute ago, poke under each counter, before you leave your name and phone number with the owner, rummage through the sand and dirt on the pavement, embarrassingly call your sibling to come and deliver the spare key, or curse the moment you ever urged for a quick piece of cake… before you do any of this ritual… check ALL your pockets. That includes not just your jeans but also your jacket.

If you are not smart enough to do that on your own then listen to the kind advice of the homeless helping you find the keys. They might just ask, “did you check your jacket?”


French Love

Valentine’s Day Special 8/8

Phew! I am so glad to have reached the 8th post. Excuse me as I do my victory tap dance on Doritos…

I’m posting music again today but I’m not cheating because this is not in English but French. Before getting to that, I just have to re-post a video I have already blogged. I did say then to save it for Valentine’s Day.


All these French songs are from the 2007 movie Les Chansons D’amour, or Love Songs, directed by Christophe Honoré. The film is a kind of unusual love triangle told in three parts. I began to watch it with little expectation — the best mindset — and was amazed at how gently it reeled me in… it is gentle only if you are comfortable with ménage à trois, so I did have a little difficulty. Its humor and sorrow is well timed. Nothing drags. Each character is carefully defined and unique in its perspective so it complements the whole. First time I saw it I just did not get the full point. The second viewing — something I hardly ever do — made me appreciate the film’s delightfully different take.

Now the movie gets its name because the characters throughout the film suddenly chime into a song because sometimes “that is the only way they know how to communicate their feelings,” according to Honoré. Fifteen in all. But they fit so well that I found it odd only 3 times. Oh, and the actors sang it themselves.

It’s a good thing I don’t understand French because even the dirty or trite sounds lyrical. The music is not typically French in style but apt. for the mood. Here are the best tracks from those 15 songs:

1. Brooklyn Bridge -A nostalgic recollection. Eng. lyrics.

2. Au parc – Passing of time and change. Touching. Eng. lyrics.

3. Inventaire – The girl on how she succumbs into his despicable charms every time. Eng. lyrics.

4. As-tu déjà aimé – A discourse on whether it is better to have loved and lost… My favorite, especially for the way the highest note is reached as it approaches the end. Eng. lyrics.

5. Je n’aime que toi – Making a bridge between a lovers’ quarrel. Lyrics in video.

5 very romantic songs for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Special 7/8

Coming back to my roots today: music.

I’ve saved this one. What better time than now to introduce (on this blog) the princess who mostly sings romance? I present: Ingrid Michaelson.

She is no newbie. She has released five studio albums since 2005 and her latest, Human Again, came out just 3 weeks ago. Her songs have been featured on shows like Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, The Big C, Brothers and Sisters; in ad campaigns by Google; and in events like ice dancing, and thanks to my brother that is how I first got to know about her.

Her voice might not reach peaks but it feels genuine. There is understanding and honesty, and her lyrics stem from experience. You can visualize so many things listening to it. So, below are five of my favorite songs by Ingrid.

1. A cover, yet remarkable, Can’t Help falling In Love

2. Keep Warm, from her new album.

3. You and I, a funny happy duet with her producer Dan Romer.

4. All Love

5. And my favorite, The Way I Am