..:: Kellog ::..


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Guide to Americans: Leisure and Pleasure

When they go on holidays Americans become even more American than usual, if that's possible, wearing crazy-patterned shorts, white running shoes, and T-shirts wiht offensive slogans. They carry their wallets in crescent-shaped 'fanny packs' that only emphasise their girth, and patronise ice-cream and fudge vendors.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 02:03:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Class and Social Status

America provides vast social mobility. A plumber could easily have a son who's a college professor, and just as easily, a college professor could have a son who's a plumber, especially when the son discovers the direction of the salary differential between the 2 professions.
In other countries those with hereditary wealth may lead lives of ostentatious indolence. This is not the case in the US where even those who don't need to work pretend they do. Anyone without a job is a nonperson. An American conversational staple is to ask "What do you do?"...The only forbidden answer is "Nothing. I'm rich."
When they talk about class, Americans mean a loose consideration of background and attitude that is unrelated to wealth. Donald Trump, for example, while possessed of great wealth, has remarkably little class, while Katherine Hepburn has class down to her toes.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 02:00:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: The Man's Car is His Castle

Most car are used for daily commuting; less than 6% of the American workforce uses public transportation to get to work. Some of the country's wonderful high-speed highways now carry 3 or more times the intended amount of traffic and twice a day turn into parking lots. San Francisco and Washington DC win the prize for the 2 cities with the worst congestion.
Even if suburban residents could walk to anything other than the house next door, they wouldn't. Walking is un-American. Whenever possible, Americans drive and, if necessary, wait to get a parking place close to their destination. Congestion occurs as drivers circle the shops, looking for a parking space that's closer to where they want to go.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:54:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Church vs State

America has no official religion of any sort, other than the near-universal worship of Mammon and widespread devotion to the cult of Disney...
In the area known as the Bible Belt, an ill-definined zone that stretches roughly from the lower East Coast westward towards Missouri and Kansas, small independent churches sprout like cotton plants, usually preaching variations on the popular themes that evolution is a lie, unbelievers are going to hell, and God likes America best.
Americans like to believe that the world cannot possibly function without their presence...
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:50:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Family Values

Children are raised to be independent and cautious, with a strong sense of self-esteem. American parents treat their children with a near-deference unheard of in most European households: "Would you like Froot Loops or Captain Crunch for breakfast? Is that enough milk? Ok, I'll put it into the teddy bear bowl instead."...
Children are raised in as risk-free a manner as possible. Along with his or her first bicycle, an American child also receives a safety helmet. The government continually tests toys to make sure they can't cause harm even when used inappropriately...On the other hand, in many areas teenagers are given a car as soon as they are old enough to drive (usually 16). The insurance payments are astronomical, but since there's little public transportation it saves hours every day for mothers. Such cossetted, protected children grow up into perfect Americans--self-centered, self-assured, competent, cheerful, and eager to try something life-threatening now that their parents are finally off their backs.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:46:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, a television personality with her own magazine, has earned a fortune telling American women how to iron their sheets, grow their own salads, and make dried flower wreaths. Virtually no women actually do these things. For many Americans, fantasising about their own potential is a full-time activitiy.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:39:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Sex

Americans know that whatever kind of sex it is they're having, it could be better. Books about improving one's sexlife top the sales charts, and women's magazines in particular feature at least one How to Have Better Sex article every month.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:37:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Manners

Americans are intrigued by good manners, in part because they don't have any.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:33:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Holidays

St Patrick's Day turns everybody in the US into honorary Irishmen and women and everything turns green, even things not normally seen in that color. Bars serve green beer, bakeries produce green bagels...It is traditional on St. Patrick's day to consume a minimum of one serving of an alcoholic beverage in an Irish bar, and on this day all bars become Irish, as do all musicians. The nation's real alcoholics refer to St. Patrick's Day as 'amateur night'.

New Year's Eve features humiliation of a qualitatively different sort: if one is single, it becomes essential to find a companion for this, the most important date night of the year. Being dateless on New Year's Eve is proof positive of a person's social and sexual undesirability.

Thanksgiving...is time for far flung families to join around a common table...to return to their ancestral nest, where they et too much, drink too much, and pick up year-old arguments as though they'd never left home...The goal is to eat so much that nobody can move, and then watch football on television. On this day it is traditional to bow one's head and give thanks for life's many blessings. However, most celebrants are actually silently giving thanks that they only se their families once a year.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:32:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Currency

American coins and bills have been specifically designed to confuse natives of other nations. Coins inclue the penny, nickel, dime and quarter, not oe of which is labelled with its actual cents value in numerals. American folding money is green, of uniform size and design, with a picture of a dead President on it. Thus a $10 bill looks a lot like a $1 bill or a $100 bill. Since the largest bill in general circulation is $20...the confusion doesn't affect the average American, who never pays cash anyway and uses a credit card for all purchases costlier than a Coke.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:20:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: The American Breakfast

Grits are a quintessentially American dish...Southerners adore them. Northerners think they're the reason the South lost the Civil War. Starting somewhere around Maryland an invisible line crosses the country, below it grits are considered essential for life, while above it they're banned as being unfit for human consumption.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:18:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans: Government and Bureaucracy

The genius of the whole system is that it is so cumbersome and complex that it has trouble accomplishing anything irredeemably stupid.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:12:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Guide to Americans

The Xenophobe's Guide to Americans has been sitting in my bookshelf since I bought it from Beijing 2 years ago. For some random reason, I brought it out at our Simpsons Sunday dinner party yesterday. We randomly picked up tid-bit passages to read out from. In the opening passage:

Forwarned is Forearmed

Americans are like children: noisy, curious, unable to keep a secret, not given to subtlety, and prone to misbehave in public. Once one accepts the Americans' basically adolescent nature, the rest of their culture falls into place, and what at first seemed thoughtless and silly appears charming and energetic.
Visitors may be overwhelmed by the sheer exuberant friendliness of Americans, especially in the central and southern parts of the country. Sit next to an American on an airplane and he will immediately address you by your first name, ask "So--how do you like it in the States?", explain his recent divorce in intimate detail, invite you home for dinner, offer to lend you money, and wrap you in a warm hug on parting.
This does not necessarily mean he will remember your name the next day. Americans are friendly because they just can't help it; they like ot be neighbourly and want to be liked. However...a few happy moments with an American do not translate into a permanent commitment of any kind. Indeed, permanent commitments are what Americans fear the most. This is a nation whose most fundamental social relationships is the casual acquiantance.

Given that our dinner party included an eclectic group of a Palestinian-American with his Spanish wife, an American who has spent the last few years in Brazil and a Singaporean (c'est moi!), the li'll book certainly made for a good conversational piece.

So much of what Stephanie Faul (born and bred in the USA) writes is spot-on amidst the irreverent humor. I'm tempted to throw out tid-bits on kellog now and then just for shits and giggles.
kellykelly, 1/27/2004 01:06:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Monday, January 26, 2004


The past couple of weeks has been an utterly satisfying streak of books. I consumed 'The Man Who Ate Everything' borrowed and recommended from my brother who's msn user name is 'He Who Only Eats'. It is a compliment to the book that it made me perpetually peckish. Highly instructive to cooks; although chapters like the one on how to make the perfect mashed potatoes gave a little too much detail for my taste. I don't like potatoes in most forms, least of which mashed.

Then came Henry James' 'Portrait of a Lady' from an impulse buy that I love on the level of Jane Austen's 'Emma' and Flaubert's 'Madame Bovary'. It reconfirms my love for 18th/19th century classics. Although I remain slightly uncomfortable about the disturbing vibe of misogyny I sense underscoring both books. Am sure there are scores of literature papers analysing this.

I was however distracted by Nick Hornby's Songbook that I breezed through in an hour at Borders. Not a bad light reading I'd say, but my disappointment with anything Hornby that is not Fever Pitch or High Fidelity remains sour. To Hornby, I feel like the girlfriend with too high expectations, whining everytime I read his newest novels: "Why can't you be like how you were before, back in the day when I was first introduced to you, oh how lovely your words were, how entertaining, and now, while your words are still witty at times, you just lack that spark of novelty, it's getting old, I'm bored, but I still keep coming back and reading anything new you put out, just because," Etc.

I refuse to get into a similar relationship with Dave Eggers, refusing to read his 2nd novel beyond the 1st boring chapter, having read his 1st awesome novel 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'. Neither did I want the same with Zadie Smith, whose 1st chapter of her 2nd novel failed to capture my attention after her 1st novel 'White Teeth' blew me away from chapter 1 to the last. I rather keep them as enjoyable one night stands that didn't overstay its welcome.

Still, ironies of ironies, I pick up 'The Best American Non-Required Reading 2003' edited by Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith. I figured this is a good way to wean myself off disappointing relationships with them since they were merely the editors, not writers. Good choice. Now, I liked a lot of 'TBANRR 2002'; but 'TBANRR 2003' is an outstanding collection. Zadie Smith's introduction won me over because it exposed a lot of my hesitations about experimental reading. I have always tended to 'fall back' on tried and tested classics (them 'Penguin Classics' or from 'required reading lists' of literature courses), especially after being disappointed with more contemporary works. There is only so much time I have to read the infinite number of books out there; why waste time trial-and-erroring when I can just read the tried and tested 'classics' ones. But Smith wrote: "For myself, I grew up believing in the Western literary canon in a depressing, absolutist way: I placed all my faith in its hierarchies, its innate quality and requiredness...the books I wanted to read as a teenager were those sanctified by my elders and betters...(but) the great joy of nonrequiredness..(is that) you have this opportunity to hold opinions that are not weighed down by the opinions that came before. It is up to you to measure the worth of the writers in your hand."

True, true...but still, I rely on these editors to compile the best of these into a collection like this. The articles/short stories in here can be catagorized as the educational or entertaining. The better ones succeed in both. Like Tales of the Tyrant (an investigative piece on Saddam Hussein and a brief attempt to understand the psyche of a dictator); the sinister 'Visiting Hours'; 'Love and Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape' (a short story made by pieceing together song titles); 'How Susie Bayer's T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama's Back' (investigative piece on what happens to our clothes after you donate them to thrift stores); the hilarious 'How to Write Suspense'; and many more. Really great shit.

I am currently glued to 'Peter Pan'. I cannot believe I have never read the original version. I cannot believe Disney made such an atrociously Disney version of it that became more famous than the actual story that's more disturbing than 'Lord of the Flies'. I love the recent Peter Pan movie for highlighting the Hobbesian nature of children: "Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are...and entirely selfish..." "But so attractive"

Barrie's Peter Pan ("To die will be an awfully big adventure.") is in my opinion one of the darkest and disturbing characters. He is the pioneer Bad Boy; the ultimate heartbreaker, but oh so attractive.

I was trying to thinking up of some underlying theme among all these books to tie up this entry. But other than "I really really really like to read", I really really really can't think of any.
kellykelly, 1/26/2004 04:41:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 24, 2004

A Laugh Twice a Day

I love living in the Castro. Who would have thought that I'd march past window displays of Gayopoly, Oro-stimulator, Make-Your-Own-Dildo!, Fast-Lube and walk by the famous Castro Theater, A Different Light Bookstore, Hot Cookie, Does Your Father Know and The Sausage Factory on the commute to and from school everyday.

The great thing about the Castro is that it's possibly one of the cleanest and safest places to live in SF. The non-sleazy, almost family-friendly (almost!) atmosphere is an achievement of the community, certainly.

And the boys here are so cute. Too bad they're always checking out my boyfriend instead of me...
kellykelly, 1/24/2004 04:07:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Spring 2004

Never thought it would be here, but here it is. My graduating semester in Berkeley. Always wondered about the inner conflict and drama I would be experiencing about the last term I'd spend in a place I've come to see as home. But now that it's here, there's almost a relief that all I seem to feel is indifference. I know now that this is supposed to be my last semester here, i.e., I feel ready to move on to a world beyond college however much I loved it.

That aside, given that I'm only sticking around to do my honors thesis (that which is still up in the air), I pretty much have leeway to take whatever classes I want, all on a pass/not pass basis. Which means a 4 days weekend again. And being able to be picky on the classes I want. Dropping 3 courses whose lecturers bored me, I eventually settled on Abrams for History 124B America--1940-now ("Culture, foreign policy, politics and literature, race and gender relations, and constitutional, business and economic issues are among the subjects we will be concerned with. Also, sex." I couldn't resist. Furthermore, Abrams is ultimately grandfatherly adorable); Karras for History 153 (British Empire...only because I love Karras and had attended 2 other classes of his prior. He's the ultimate Diva of professors, but always had a strong thesis/point to his lectures that not many professors seem to do. His lectures have become a yardstick to which I measure political science/history courses); Walker for Geography 50AC (Geography of California. Inspired by my road trip and the fact that I enjoyed Professor Walker's course last semester).

It comes down to settling on the sure-thing professors whose classes I have taken before. Given the luxury of time I have and the disappointingly high numbers of professors who are likely terribly intelligent in their research but horribly inept in teaching and the fact that this semester is costing $10,000, I'd settle on the sure thing...

Now I just need to do by this weekend what I should have taken the whole of last semester to do...write up my honors thesis prospectus and keep my fingers crossed.
kellykelly, 1/24/2004 03:58:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 18, 2004


You know your corporation has made it in world dominance when your product is considered as an indicator of purchasing power parity worldwide. From Big Mac to Starbucks Latte.
kellykelly, 1/18/2004 12:54:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Immune, Schmune

Kelly's not too happy with her immune system right now. After battling a 24hr fever/flu a month or so ago, I thought I was done, immune from the nasty flu bug going around everywhere, nyuk nyuk, etc. When an innocuous cough persisted a fortnight ago, I stayed in denial, blaming travels in deserts, LA smog and the godawful amount of dust I breathed in while moving into Patrick's (under-bed boxes left untouched for a year are scary). But no, no, no...I woke up one morning with a full blown stuffed nose, nasty sore throat, and a backache to boot. Then there was no doubt about it, I had The Flu...again.

The last 2 days were spent in a half-fog of Nyquil and Tylenol Cold medication and settling down in the couch with (too) many episodes of Sex and the City. That series is scary. You sit down in your comfy chair and bloop bloop bloop you click from one easy 25min episode to the next, like those tiny to-die-for (whoops slipping into SATClingo already) chocolate truffles from Trader Joe's, oh just one more, oh I really shouldn't they're bad for me, but just one more tiny piece... You find yourself sucked into that world of insecurity, promiscuity, girlfriends, and boyfriends that are Mr Bad For You (oh, Mr Big), Mr Too Goody For You (oh, Skipper, oh Steve) or Mr Just Not Quite Right For You (oh, Aidan), Mr Too Small (oh, James), Mr Too Big (oh, Mr Too Big), or Mr Just Can't Get It Up (oh, Trey), and as the sun sets outside and all that's left is the sniveling you tranquilized by your nyquil friends acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine succinate, and pseudoephedrine, you start nodding to their idiosyncracies and feel almost guilty for being the other (kind of) woman...the Non-Single, one part of a Couple, the one with The Boyfriend. And happy. And almost guilty. The days of complaining to girl friends about the Mr Wrongs have been marketed to you as...cool. Aw, wasn't it just 11 months ago that I was one of them? The fabulous empowered swinging single?

Then he comes home from work, says "hey there, frumplelicious" (from my hideous in-bed-all-day frumpy hair + nerdy glasses never to be seen outdoors), kisses me on my forehead, reminds me to take my vitamins, sits down and laughs with me over an episode, and later takes me out to watch Winged Migration (fantastic, amazing, on Baraka scale eye-opening awe-some. I have new respect for birds) and hugs me to sleep even though my nose is leaking on his chest.

And I felt quite fabulous.

And just quite happy with my Mr. Just Right right now.

And somewhere, the Roll-Your-Eyes-Cheese Police is hunting me down as I write, "I have caught the Love Bug too." (*sirens in the background*).
kellykelly, 1/17/2004 05:23:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Monday, January 12, 2004

The Dismal Science...Not.

Reading about people like Steven Levitt motivates me to do my senior honors thesis amid my impeding inertia to get this party started.
kellykelly, 1/12/2004 04:34:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Friday, January 09, 2004

Instead of A Thousand Words...

...these pictures (and a few captioning words) to tell the story of Kelly and Patrick's planned-Mexico-but-turning-out-to-be-a-California road trip (alas, I was supposed to collect a new I-20 that states my 2nd major which I didn't collect, hence did not want to risk crossing the border). Whatever, the trip was astounding. California is spectacular. Here are just a few of my favorite shots my beloved Kelph took. The array of geography and climates in one single state is mind-boggling.

We saw snow-kissed Yosemite:

Drove on a major detour up to South Lake Tahoe down to Mammoth where Pat caught a day of snowboarding, while I stayed at the lodge and spent a day with a group of power-lesbians from South Africa and the Netherlands (not photographed):

We walked on the Sand Dunes near Death Valley (the lowest point in America):

We drove through the Mojave Desert:

Checked out the sights and trees at Joshua Tree:

Said goodbye to nature as we drove headlong into smog filled LA (you could literally see a yellowish layer of fog hovering above the city as we drove on I-10 West).

But Santa Monica and Venice Beach were hilarious. No one I've known has told me they liked LA, but I loved it. Maybe it's the lowered expectations. Other than the non-too-friendly group of Singaporeans (how hard is it to make eye-contact and say hello?) I bumped into along the broadwalk, I could see myself living there for a bit. The very Californian lifestyle of sunshine and wheatgrass (we each took a shot of that green pukey thing at the health store across our hostel daily while we were there) is laughable, but I could like, totally, like, see myself soaking in the sun and buying my organic granolas there...for a while.

My fav restaurant of the trip...they even had their chopsticks wrapped in flimy plastic wraps a la coffee-shops in Johor. Very authentic. But with "The People's Potstickers!" and "Mao's Restaurant Delivers to the Masses!", Mao would be rolling in his grave.

One of my fav shots that Patrick took.

One of the 2 pieces of art we bought for ourselves:

What wasn't documented/photographed was our midnight-8am rave session at John Digweed's New Year's Eve set, and the restaurant opening at Kung Pao Kitty we got invited to while waiting for a bus outside the restaurant. Paul, the owner, saw us standing outside the window and waved us in, luring us with "free food! free alcohol! c'mon in!". Random. We spent the next day sleeping and watching the sun set on Venice Beach.

I couldn't ask for more out of a trip.
kellykelly, 1/09/2004 05:53:00 am | link | 0 comments |