Monthly Archives: January 2011

One hopes this isn’t a dead lizard

Funny thing recommending music to people. It’s quite personal – almost revealing – and you never quite know what reaction you’ll get. Sometimes I feel I’m the family dog retrieving your slippers and newspaper, and you’re pleased at the gifts I’ve delivered. Sometimes, however, I sense I’m the family cat, who’s just deposited a freshly-killed lizard at your feet.

Both are offered out of affection, though not necessarily welcomed as such.

But I still rave and recommend and burn disks for people in the optimistic hope that they’ll be as jazzed as I am by Neko Case, Animal Collective, Matthew Sweet, Elbow and all the other cool artists who regularly rock my world.

Yesterday I completed ignored my New Year’s vow to economize and blew a small bundle at HMV on new music. What am I, still in college? Tiger Mother would have my ass! Somehow I don’t think I can get away with feeding my kids instant noodles and hot dogs for the rest of the month. Can I?

I’m still working through my purchases – catching up with late 2010 releases like Rufus Wainwright, Massive Attack and Jonsi – but the best of the bunch so far is the debut album from a British singer-songwriter called Rumer. (You can check out several of her songs at http://www.rumer.co.uk/)

Can I rave here for just a second? Rumer is sublime pop. The songwriting and arrangements are this close to transcendent. Take one part jazz vocalist, throw in some California confessional, a smidgen of seductive chanteuse and a hefty dose of seventies pop and you have Seasons of my Soul.

The Guardian has likened her voice to Karen Carpenter but absolutely do not let that put you off giving her a listen. I first heard Rumer on kcrw.com (where else?) with the song ‘Aretha’ (yes, after the Queen of Soul), and it was just a perfect jazz-pop number. I had to go back and check kcrw’s tracklist – who is this chick? Her voice is warm and familiar, like something you heard coming out of your Mom’s stereo. She’s not over produced or trying too hard, and I’m thinking that’s because she’s British, not American. She’s Diana Krall without the burden of being Diana Krall, you know what I’m saying?

The tracks ‘Come To Me High’ (what an awesome title) and ‘Slow’ groove so slowly and seductively that you’ll be lighting candles, opening a Sauv Blanc and breaking out the negligee. Trust me ladies. Don’t make the mistake I did of listening to this when your hubby has just gone out of town, unless you happen to have something in the battery-operated department stashed away (note to self – update shopping list).

Rumer has been around the music business for a good decade without a recording contract. Because of that, I think, she’s had time to learn songwriting and figure out who she wants to be. The songs are personal, well-crafted and seemingly unaffected by the whims of today’s music. Retro sounds without the irony or Glee gloss.

The only question mark is her cover of Bread’s ‘Goodbye Girl’. Hey, I like a good ‘70s movie song as much as the next guy (that means you Tootsie and Arthur) but this was just a little too cloying and didn’t gel with the rest of her highly intimate tracks.

She’s worked with Burt Bacharach, Elton John and Leon Russell. She’s been nominated for two Brit Awards. She’s currently on tour in the UK (please come to Hong Kong!), so I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about her this year. Enjoy!

Due to a substantial increase in my readership, I've been able to hire two assistants. They don't bring me dead lizards however.

Move on Mommie Dearest, an update

Well, this Amy Chua kerfluffle has got legs! I didn’t think I was exactly ahead of the curve when I posted about her Wall Street Journal article a few days ago. But people are still discussing – agreeing or venting – about her take-no-prisoners parenting tactics. Now on the WSJ site: a rebuttal from the Western mom perspective. However, I know the issue must be waning because she made the front page of our local English-language paper, The South China Morning Post. “Shock and awe” they call it. If the SCMP has picked it up, you know it’s old news!

On a more positive note, a good friend of mine (and fellow rockmom) in Austin sent me a link to a well-written and quite reassuring article about parenting styles and the pros and cons of Amy Chua’s achievement-oriented bootcamp.

Check it out here and let me know what you think!

Amy Chua’s article makes for good conversation and obviously spurred me to blog about her, however I’m deeply suspicious of her motives, and of the motives over at the WSJ offices. Of course you post something like this to drive traffic to your site, book, print edition, etc. But just looking at Chua’s reasoning behind the way she raises her daughters, it’s ridiculous to think her girls will respond to external motivation for their entire school lives. Where’s the self-motivation? Is Chua going to accompany them to college, sit behind them in the library and hector them until they finish their work? I wouldn’t put it past her, but you know she probably won’t be able to find them because they’ll be off at the campus kegger hollering, “Freedom!”

With that in mind, and as it’s now Saturday afternoon, I shall put the Amy Chua issue to rest and go check that my daughters are doing something fun and enjoyable – something possibly without any educational, achievement-oriented merit whatsoever.

Have a good weekend!

Amy, it’s Mommie Dearest calling, she wants her raw meat back

Be afraid, be very afraid

This woman is fantastic! And I mean that in the funniest, looniest, perfect-est fodder for jokes and lighthearted ribbing way possible. This is comedy gold, is what it is.

Finally, academia has its very own Sarah Palin! And who better to represent those snobby, intellectual atheists (as Caribou Barbie likes to call ’em) than an aggressively superior Asian woman married to a Jewish guy! Note to Tea Party’ers – they have finally ticked all the boxes. Feel free to include them in your vast and paranoid conspiracy theories. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I am. My apologies if I’ve offended any atheists.)

“Who the hell are you talking about rockmom?” you ask. If you haven’t read or heard about this woman’s article you should. It’s called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” and it’s written by Amy Chua, Yale law professor, author and mother of two daughters. In the article, Chua reveals what she terms her successful parenting style, which forbids playdates, sleepovers, appearing in school plays, watching TV, playing computer games, getting any grade less than an A and not playing the piano or violin.

Have you considered decaf, Amy? Some smooth jazz? A little foreplay maybe?

Now, one read through this blatantly incendiary column will reveal that Chua’s going out on a limb – way out – because, surprise, surprise, she has a book to sell. And I know, I know – by blogging about her I’m just driving traffic to her Wall Street Journal article and getting her more publicity. Jeez, her one kooky column has received 2,700 comments (!!) and counting!

But before you start gnashing your teeth in indignation at her cruel, heartless ways (I’m sure she has her reasons) and the psychic damage she may or may not be inflicting on her daughters, just consider this:

What’s the real, good reason for this article? It will make you look and feel soooo much better as a mom. So when my daughter is giving me a hard time because she’s the only one of her friends who doesn’t have a cel phone, I can sit her down with good ol’ Amy and say, ‘Sweetie, it could be worse!’

Plus, who would have thought I could sneak Faye Dunaway pics in to a rockmom blog? Oh go on, I can’t resist, just one more for good measure…

No wire hangers ever!