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by Subashini Navaratnam

17 Jan 2011


Usually, Kuala Lumpur is predictably sweltering and humid with the occasional rainstorm to break the monotony. Over Christmas and New Year, however, we had grey skies, rain, and a strange new chill in the air brought on by a slight dip in temperatures. It seemed only prudent to hunker down to some hard work and the ‘80s-era TV adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ mystery novels available on YouTube. Particularly, Gaudy Night, which I enjoyed in book-form and also in its visual adaptation. Edward Petherbridge hits all the right notes as the impossibly fair-haired and monocled Lord Peter Wimsey, prone to yes, whimsy and English excess, and capable of being endearing, compelling, and annoying all at once. Harriet Walters also plays Harriet Vane just as I imagined Harriet Vane to be: intelligent, also mildly annoying, and seething with an undercurrent of anger and proper English passion.

The cloistered all-female colleges of Oxford provide opportunities for plenty of scholarly women to wax lyrical over Socrates, morality, and human nature. There are stereotypical assumptions on female intelligence and sexuality, as well as the unpleasant whiff of distinct class snobbery – the latter being a common trait in Sayers’ novels and British mysteries of the particular era. However, the performances of the actors manage to inject nuance into what is “just” a mystery story (albeit a very compelling one). Furthermore, in the midst of 21st century bad weather and general disenchantment with the new year, the utterly inexplicable and anachronistic yet very apt romance between Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane allow our jaded but still quietly-romantic hearts to keep on beating in hope for our real-life infatuations.

by Jacob Adams

11 Nov 2010


The Internet offers a plethora of options for those interested in reading insightful and relevant content about popular culture. But, sometimes you need to get your cultural fix while working out, cooking dinner, or sitting in traffic. The exhilarating world of podcasting opens up new opportunities for pop culture analysis in the relatively young medium. However, as is the case with the written word, it can often be difficult to separate the podcasting wheat from the chaff. For every intelligent and well-produced episode, there are hundreds of rambling, amateurish productions available for download on a daily basis. Here is a list of ten particularly rewarding podcasts covering the worlds of film, television, music, and literature. I always look forward to seeing new episodes of the following pop up on my iPhone:

#10: Film Junk
Although it took me a while to get into this podcast initially, it is now prominent in my regular rotation. Three movie fans from St. Catherines, Ontario talk weekly for a couple of hours about all aspects of the cinema, from movie news, to trailer trash, to reviews of new releases. While this podcast leans dangerously towards irrelevant rambling on occasion, the hosts are amusing enough that they are entertaining to listen to even when they talk about hockey or their collections of Star Wars memorabilia. The insights of documentary filmmaker and co-host Jay Cheel are of particular interest.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

28 Oct 2010


Banned Books Week may be over, but book banning is still an issue all over the world. Here’s an excerpt of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, the novel behind #speakloudly and the Missouri school board controversy. (Read more about book banning, Speak, and what Anderson would say to the Missouri school board in our Banned Books Week interview.)

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by Steve Horowitz

13 Sep 2010


Rabbis will tell you there are no Jewish ghosts. Just like heaven, the concept of ghosts cannot be found in the Torah (the Jewish Bible). Gentiles have the Holy Ghost, but not Judaism. Christianity and Judaism have less in common than many Americans would like to believe. But in Jewish culture—ghosts abound. This is especially in the writings of the great Yiddish Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Ghosts, imps, demons, the spirits of the departed and such inhabit the world of his fiction. Who knows, he might be right? During this High Holiday season, it is good to be reminded of those departed whose spirits still live within us. These glimpses of Singer offer a pleasant reminder of his humanistic joy. And if decides to come back and haunt us, like Casper, he will be a friendly ghost.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

25 Aug 2010


Earlier this month, award-winning author Neil Gaiman contributed a short story, to Harper Perennial’s recent Fifty-Two Stories experiment, Neil Gaiman contributed a short story, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains. Last week, he read the story for the first time at Australia’s Sydney Opera House. Here are a few highlights, via The Sydney Morning Herald.

Note: Contains spoilers.

//Mixed media