How did DGM do last year?

This is somewhat late, but in a mercifully brief moment of vanity, I’d like to post a summary of Dove Grey Matter’s blog health in the past year, based on hits, number of comments, and overall awesomeness. This is what WordPress found out:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meterâ„¢ reads WOW.

Yes, that’s a ‘Wow’, and thanks mainly to my hotly debated sexism and the popular male intellectual post and an old post on shame and sexuality as part of Malaysia’s collective herstory.

Eid Mubarak / Selamat Hari Raya!

September is a difficult month. It’s when my MA overlaps with my PhD, and when I’m finishing my dissertation on “traditional” homosexuality in Indonesian fiction, which is not going as well as I initially intended. DGM still seems half-constructed, like an unfinished new home, and I feel a bit sad about that. BUT, the grand submission is next Wednesday, I shall begin my new life as a researcher of interesting things, and more writing will ensue. Until then, Eid Mubarak, everybody!

Ramadhan Mubarak!

1st of Ramadhan pie
1st of Ramadhan meal: A creamy chicken, mushroom, and courgette pie complete with star and crescent baked by yours truly.

Yes, I haven’t been very active here of late. But allow me this brief opportunity to wish all Muslims a blessed Ramadhan. And happy wishes to non-Muslims friends and family who must with deal the whining and grumbling bellies of abstaining souls.

Apologies (again)

The blogosphere awaits for no one. When one blogger drops out, another fills in an already saturated space. While the blogosphere advances ahead each day with enviable speed and continuity, I appear like I’ve been sat on my hands and silent like a grave on various important issues.

I am sorry to readers, and I am sorry to myself for not speaking up on them.

As some of you know, I am currently pursuing an MA in Gender Studies. That means plenty of work and if you’re like me, that means plenty of overtime analytical thinking (and worrying over work). In the last one and a half months, I’ve been sat in front of the computer either working on reaction papers, essays, or reading the latest news that saddens, angers, and only seldomly gladdens me. When the next year arrived, I was excited about new possibilities and challenges, so much so that for the first time I wrote down my resolutions for this year:

  • Dance more
  • If that’s not enough, work out more whenever I can
  • Re-connect with friends
  • Read more fiction
  • Go camping at the right time of the year.

Happy new year, everybody.

8 most memorable musical moments

I’ve been tagged by Gareth to list what I think are my 8 most memorable musical moments. I’m torn between memorable performances caught on film/video and moments that have shaped my musical taste, so I thought I go half and half here. But as the curse of blog memes go, I have to tag someone else whom I think reads my blog; so now I tag the fabulous Jha.

  1. Love Me or Leave Me by Nina Simone was playing on my Yahoo internet radio years ago when everyone was still using Yahoo as a search engine and making websites on Geocities. What grabbed me in this track is Simone’s baroque cadenza syncopated with jazz rhythms. Simone was an amazing singer and competent classical and jazz pianist, and was someone I wish I could emulate, but as some people I know and love can testify, that hasn’t been a very successful pursuit – yet.
  2. Singing as a tribute to Roy Orbison is k d lang’s Crying. The duet between the two is really good too, but there’s something quite special about lang taking command of the audience in this video. Standing ovation material this one definitely is.
  3. Party Fears Two by The Associates. There are two things I found out about Party Fears Two that will stick with me forever; first, it was released on the year of my birth, making it quite ancient and strangely lacking the timelessness of Bach and Ravel, and second, the voice of Billy Mackenzie.
  4. A list of my favourite music won’t be complete without something classical. I first listened to Prelude from Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin in a shadowy 1951 recording of Robert Casadesus playing the opening of Ravel’s tribute to the baroque master of the harpsichord, Francois Couperin during my mid teenage years. The recording however made this magical and mysterious piece even more magical and mysterious. This video recording is perhaps one of the best that captures the piece’s texture and colour, and the zither-like climax!
  5. Slow Hands by Interpol. I was in the advanced stage of indie music appreciation when arty New York bands like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were becoming big. It was around the time I fell in love with NYC’s relatively smaller bands like Interpol for its deep base, open drums, old-fashioned guitar twang, and the sexy baritone of Paul Banks. Somehow, their live shows only seldomly showcase Banks’ signature voice for some reason; it often comes out a little flat. Anyway, here’s a video where Banks sounds pretty decent and looks adorable, thankfully without his ridiculous hats and unfortunate distribution of facial hair.
  6. Melati Di Tapal by General Wiranto. There’s nothing like a shady politician who does a little crooning on the side. This song is one of my favourites despite its half-hearted reference to Sri Kandi and message to women in the military, it also reminds me of my undergraduate days as choir pianist and occasional soprano. Melati has survived decades of different renditions, but Wiranto’s jazzed-up smoky night club version of the anti-colonialist ballad is particularly cool.
  7. Love of My Life by Queen makes me all nostalgic about the last years of Freddie Mercury’s life, when my mum played Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on repeat in the car every time we go out. It was when I saw him singing on stage in a TV programme that I knew what true rock showmanship is and should be about. But I’ve only begun to appreciate this particular song recently when my stepdad and mum sang this together at a karaoke session last year. It has the most beautiful and heart-felt lyrics, and my parents – who are both terrible singers – make this song all the more poignant.
  8. The Plaint; O Let Me Weep, For Ever Weep by Henry Purcell, performed and choreographed by Pina Bausch. I often associate musical memory with images, but rarely from films. The Piano is one of the few examples, but I find the opening of Pedro Almodovar’s Talk To Her very memorable visually and musically.


Prambanan, Yogyakarta. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s that time again, dear readers – I’m disappearing yet again! Though I’m far from happy to say that; writing conditions here have not been conducive or ideal. So there have been fewer posts this month and Cycads is starting gather cobwebs. A new, temporary research job at University of Malaya has taken up much of my time. And now, I’m packing up for a month-long break around the peninsular and Yogyakarta for traces of my pre-Islamic roots.

I will not be writing in July and it saddens me a great deal to miss out on opportunities to engage in so many pressing issues concerning us Muslim women right now. Let us pray and hope that the protesters in Iran get their justice and peace, that Sisters In Islam win their battle against those who jealously guard their authority to speak for Muslims, and that Muslim women in France be given a platform to speak for their right to wear what they want. The position of patriarchal power is never secure and it re-asserts itself by oppressing the most vulnerable in society – the young and female, the economically, racially, and sexually marginalised – the unrepresented in “official” power. Don’t people who walk the corridors of power have better things to do, like serving the people, for example?

It's been quiet here, hasn't it?

Good grief. It’s been pretty quiet here, hasn’t it? My own fault really. It has been a busy week consisting of a friend’s PhD viva picnic party, another friend’s massive choir performance, my college dinner recital, video-editing lessons and late night chocolate chip cookie baking.

I should still be in one piece to write something up very soon.

Update: Can’t get enough of me? Connect with me outside the blogosphere via Facebook and Delicious.