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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Remember the One Who Left

I like music which reminds me of places that I have been, or places that I want to go. Listening to Drum&Bass I feel like I am back in London in a council flat, bass-bins throbbing, high hats crackling, the air heaving with hashish. Vietnamese love songs transport me to Mũi Né on a languid evening, waves crashing on a nearby beach, a radio crooning in a fisherman's hut. Vietnamese music always sounds so sad, it must be because they had a tragic history...



I love music's ability to rally our emotions, and take us on a journey. When I got out of my 16 days of detention in Japan, the only one who could really understand what I had been through was Jónsi Birgisson, the frontman of Icelandic quartet Sigur Rós. It didn't matter that I had never met him, it was obvious that he understood. It doesn't matter that his songs are mostly wordless, it is the emotion that counts. In fact, his music speaks of the realm beyond language which we inhabited before incarnation, and separation... (To listen to my curated playlist of music from around the world, click here.)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Entranced by The Entrance

Established at the mouth of Tuggerah Lake, The Entrance is one of those scenic seaside towns you should see on the long road from Sydney to Brisbane. It is called The Entrance, presumably, because it sits astride the outlet of Tuggerah Lake, where the lake enters the ocean (or vice versa).


Life up here revolves around the elements: fishing, surfing, and boating are major pastimes. Every afternoon, hundreds of pelicans descend on the town for a free feed. The pelican is an emblem of the Central Coast, and you can see its likeness everywhere: as the logo of The Entrance Backpacker's Hostel, or a statue in someone's front yard.


There are actually two coastlines to explore, one on the lake, and the other on the ocean. The channel is the place they meet, where they kiss as Venetians might say. Domestic tourists abound, many from Sydney; Lebanese and Koreans are common in the summer months, and you can buy their food in the local Coles. The Red Bus service connects the town with other transport hubs, such as Tuggerah and Lake Haven. It is convenient to just jump on and off, and venture forth in search of new adventures. And there are plenty of adventures to be found, both north and south, east and west... (For more on The Entrance and its affiliated attractions, click here.)



Friday, May 24, 2019

Introducing the Schwa, the Upside Down e

There are 44 basic sounds in the English language, represented by 26 letters of the alphabet. Of these, 23 are vowels, which is quite a lot more than in some other European languages, like Spanish, or Italian.

Because of the mismatch between the number of phonemes in English and the number of letters used to represent them, there are often difficulties in trying to spell English words phonetically. This is actually one of the biggest complaints of non-native speakers when they learn English.

To overcome this problem, phonetic symbols were developed to represent the natural sounds of English in a comprehensive scientific way. The International Phonetic Association has created a system that describes the phonemes which can be used not only in English, but any language in the world (even Klingon, or Sindarin!)... (For more on the schwa and other 43 English phonemes, click here.)
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