Lost in Translation

It's always a pleasure to learn a foreign word, or two (or three). Especially when you encounter or recall unique ones like Wabi-sabi or Ubuntu that has become iconic and symbolic, the way that each of them are untranslatable (no equivalent word in English) prompts any "word warrior" to dig deeper into each of their histories, including their evolution. In the end, you will appreciate the word more. You might want to share it with your loved ones or perhaps the rest of the World.

Compiled and illustrated by Ella Frances Sanders, this is a beautiful and interesting collection of unique words of the World. Thanks for including the Tagalog word "Kilig" in the collection because it is indeed, unique.

Images above belonged to the author.

Genre: Art, Language, Word Collection
Rating: 4 luftmensch out of 5


Let Your Light Shine

If I were a producer of today's highly recycled commercial music, I would categorize Agostino Scafidi's Let Your Light Shine [v.0] more as "sound" than "music." This advanced release composed of three recordings was mostly made by improvisation (guitars + light electronica) and live recordings in the neighborhood (I can hear people conversing and a car beeping) and will surely cater much to the underground scene or recording studios editing background music for a postmodern Terry Gilliam movie.

Before downloading the EP/album, I asked the artist/author about his musical references and history.

Booktripper: Could you tell me any of your musical influences including the kind of music you don't like, or the genre that is last on your list?

Scafidi: My influences have always been with various artists, not really specific ones, but all falling within free improvisation. That has been my main love when it comes to music and playing the guitar. I am also very interested in unorthodox and interesting music work such as field recordings. I also have always had a love for electronic music, but more the underground type instead of the mainstream. Recently, I have been very interested in the vaporwave genre. I have written a couple blog posts about it which you can see on my site.

I used to also enjoy metal and rock music. Not so much anymore. But now and then I do dabble and check out artists in various styles. I always appreciate hearing something new, even if it's only just once.

My least favourite genre is probably hip-hop/rap, and ballad/singer type music such as the big stars for example. I have still heard quite a bit of that music over the years, but it's not something I would seek out and listen for enjoyment.

The fusion of nature, man, and technology in this set is obvious. But if you are looking if this album follows the old and popular formula of rhythm, length, melody, harmonics, and all other ingredients of a mass-produced music, this album transcend and defy those rules.

You can check his music here.

Music Genre: Experimental, Improvisation
Rating: 3 stars


The Ocean at The End of The Lane

Excluding graphic novels, my previous Neil Gaiman reads summed up to seven (7). The first was Good Omens, then Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and recently Odd & the Frost Giants in December last year (2014). From those previous reads I can compare this novel to Coraline  but here the protagonist is a seven year old boy and the story is less creepy. His characters and his storytelling technique may be using the classic tropes of the modern speculative fiction genre but Gaiman really has this skill of situating his characters in a very unique problem that the only way to get out of it is to be unpredictable. I actually like the Hempstocks here as entities that represent the fabric of time (just my interpretation based also on the nature of the antagonist) as opposed to being witches. One of them actually said it that there are no witches around so I believed her.

The degree of sentimentality with the protagonist's past is comparably less than that of Nobody Owens in the Graveyard Book but still I just love how they mix the real past from the fabricated past just to protect normal people from the truth. The opening scene reminds me also of the opening but funny scene at Anansi Boys. I wanted to see Lettie after what she did but maybe it was intentional and better to put her in future spin off novels or stories.

I wanted to give this book a 4 star rating but I am removing 0.5 of it to remove the Neil Gaiman bias (I am such a fan) and be fair to other authors too. Still, I recommend this book even to non-Gaiman readers out there, if they actually exist.

Memorable passage:
I finally made friends with my father when I entered my twenties. We had so little in common when I was a boy, and I am certain I had been a disappointment to him. He did not ask for a child with a book, off in its own world. He wanted a son who did what he had done: swam and boxed and played rugby, and drove cars at speed with abandon and joy, but that was not what he had wound up with.

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 yards of silk out of 5