Asia’s Banking CEOs

Wow, a big big day – my book came out! Cool stuff. I took it to work this morning and gave it to my big boss, who is responsible for the whole thing in the first place, and he was really delighted with it. I had a great day after that. One of my bosses put out an email letting the company know that my book had come out, and I got a few congratulatory emails, sometimes from people I didn’t really know well. One of my colleagues said “hey, this means you’re a writer now,” and I just had to laugh – I’ve been a writer longer than she’s been at our company, but she meant it in a different way and was happy for me so that’s all good. I got home and there were people here, so I had some food, watched Zen fall asleep near me, and had some beer. Now I’m writing my blog!

Today is also special for another reason – it’s the day the Large Hadron Collider opens in Switzerland. The Economist calls it “the world’s largest machine,” it is a 27 kilometer ring carved into the Alps at the cost or $10 billion, the most significant improvement in this sort of technology for a generation – 25 years. It is supposed to prove the existence of the Higgs boson and – who knows – particles that are responsible for gravity that could be called “gravitons” the way we have electrons and protons. Dark matter, which is believed to compose 22% of the universe, and dark energy, which is believed to compose 74% of the universe, the “Hawking radiation” that might be produced by black holes large and small, all that good stuff. Let’s see if it paves the way for our understanding of the universe by being better, stronger, smarter.
Besides all this stuff – what else? Today Zen had a fun day from school, he went to school in the morning rather than in the afternoon and there was an assembly for Singapore National Day where he got to do activities and sing songs. After that he and Naoko came out to see me near work. First I took them to the nearby TV network’s office and studio to give them a tour and we had a really great tour from one of the producers. So now Naoko and Zen know what that looks like and can understand that part of my experience. After that we went to eat Korean food, which was nice for a change. I had to go off to work, and they went back home and had a nice day together.

This week was pretty good. The weekend before it was nice too – I took Zen to see the Malaysia train on Saturday evening and then after that we went to eat satay and carrot cake and drink beer (me) and 100 Plus (Zen). We went home and met Naoko. A nice weekend, although I did writing and other work too.

Peter’s book
ABC book 01
ABC book 02

Naoko’s pretzels

Zen’s satay
Zen satay

Zen and the flowers
Zen flower

Peter and Zen climb the $2 tree
Peter Zen tree

DVD review:

David Gilmour: Remember That Night, Live At The Royal Albert Hall – Wow, over five hours of David Gilmour. I have to say first off that watching this always makes me think of Pink Floyd in Pompeii. At that time David Gilmour bore a striking resemblance to Leonardo Dicaprio, whereas in this he bears a striking resemblance to Malcolm McDowell or Terrence Stamp, but with less hair. He’s onstage at the Royal Albert Hall, very much the leader of his band of 10 musicians, many of whom are there to recreate the multiple guitar parts of his Pink Floyd and solo songs. Included from his solo albums are only songs from the recent “On An Island” (nothing from “About Face” or “David Gilmour”, for some reason) and he brings David Crosby and Graham Nash to sing harmonies with him. Crosby, Gilmour and Nash sound great, although Crosby and Nash look funny – the former short and paunchy with his hands in his pockets all the time and the latter both boogying and grimacing strainingly as he sings. For a hippy bluesman, it’s a bit odd that Gilmour has such a posh accent, but those guitar solos are great, even if he is also a bit paunchy and makes frog faces as he makes his guitar grown and wail. He mostly plays his all-black Stratocaster, although he does pull out a gold Les Paul for a song, and also a flesh-coloured Telecaster, as well as various Turkish string instruments, slide guitars, and at one point a saxophone. Disc 1 is a full concert recording of one of the band’s nights at the Royal Albert Hall. Gilmour starts the album with three songs from Dark Side of the Moon – “Speak to Me,” “Beathe”, they skip “On the Run,” then play “Time.” It’s odd, to me, to not hear the full album (I never listen to single songs from that album if I don’t have to) but those three songs sound good, especially the saxophone solo done by Dick Parry, the original performer from Dark Side of the Moon recording – he switches from a baritone sax to a tenor sax without skipping a beat, great stuff. Gilmour and the band then plays the full new album, and it’s tight and meaty, with two songs featuring Crosby and Nash, and one with Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine playing the trumpet from his wheelchair. After a break, they come out and play “Shine On Your Crazy Diamond”, which for a while is just David Gilmour and Richard Wright behind his impressive bank of keyboards. There is a very nice version of “Fat Old Sun” from the “Atom Heart Mother” album, and also an impressive “Echoes”… which does hearken the listener back to Live At Pompeii… These people have come a long way in 35 years. “Wish You Were Here” feels very personal before it picks up in a band thing. David sings “Find The Cost of Freedom” with Crosby and Nash, one of their songs, before bringing out David Bowie to sing “Arnold Layne” and “Comfortably Numb.” It might be hard to imagine Bowie singing Pink Floyd songs, but he does a great great job and makes it sound natural (interesting how I also bought a Bowie CD on the same day, “Live Santa Monica “72″). The solo from “Comfortable Numb” is stunning, especially the lead-out version, which just screams and screams and screams. Dear Lord!!! The crowd were dancing in the aisles, it was terribly moving.

But ultimately, while the cameramen do get some nice shots of David soloing and do zoom in on his fingers (one of the main reasons I bought this) the concert suffers a bit from a lack of attention to this point and also some choppy jumping around from player to player, and also an odd “over-the-precipice” camera boom shot that they throw in from time to time that looks like it is the same shot over and over again (you couldnt’ tell if it was taken at a different time in the concert, since it was so far from the stage). But this is not a major problem in the video, since there is plenty of everything to please the viewer and the Pink Floyd fan, especially the nuggets and the great guest features.

Disc 2 has nice songs on it, as well as some documentaries. For the songs, they do “Arnold Layne” and “Comfortable Numb” with Richard Wright instead of David Bowie from the other nights at the Royal Albert Hall and it’s not quite the same – Wright does seem a bit stodgy and square, he clearly has none of Bowie’s mojo. Theres also a nice version of “Wot’s… Uh, the Deal” from “Obscured by Clouds”, one of the nuggets they dug out and a very nice one indeed. Also some Syd Barrett songs “Dominoes” and “Dark Globe.” A cool live-in-the-studio verson of “Astronomy Domine,” an impromptu rendition of a part of “Echoes.” There are five songs performed in the BBC Mermaid Theatre that were part of the first public performance of the album. The video for “On An Island” is very nice, especially the solo which shows David playing in his room of guitars. Smile has background vocals from Polly Sampson, Gilmour’s wife, a sweet ballad.

There are also some good documentaries, such as 45-minute “Breaking Bread, Drinking Wine” about the “On An Island” tour. They band rehearse in the UK at the same production area that Roger Waters is also renting a part of, so there’s a scene of the two having a brief chat and hugging (lots of hugging in this one) and also Nick Mason appearing with David’s drummer Steve DiStanislao. Hanging out with Crosby and Nash and Bowie (3D, as in three Davids – Bowie, Crosby and Gilmour), David practising saxophone, and then going on tour. They play a castle in Linz, and David does “Dark Globe,” his first performance since Syd Barrett died and the first time he’d ever practiced or performed “Dark Globe.” They play at an old Roman amphitheatre in Vienne in France, and of course they reference Pompeii by showing the band doing “Echoes.’ They play in the Florence piazza, then also in San Marcos square in Venice where they run into all sorts of logistics problems. There are fun incidents about playing water glasses onstage, and when they run into a street performer who does this in Venice they drag him onstage with them. At the end they meet Lech Walesa and play the shipyards of Gdansk on the 26th anniversary of the Solidarity movement, which is moving. Before the documentary starts a message says “when you see this special mark press enter to see extended content” which means you don’t have to hunt around for secret easter eggs to access stuff like this.

A 17-minute documentary on the making of “On An Island” is not as good, although you do get a sort of tour of the Astoria, which is Gilmour’s houseboat recording studio on the Thames. There are some stories about the inspirations for some of the songs, and tales of how the lyrics got added and why. There’s also five minutes of backstage images from the west coast of the US, which are only interesting because Jude Law shows up, and maybe Crispin Hellion Glover (but I’m not so sure if it’s him or someone else).

And a photo gallery.

CD review:

David Bowie: Live Santa Monica ’72 – Bowie on tour in 1972 with his Spiders From Mars and very into his Ziggy character, who he killed off at the end of the tour. It was Bowie’s fourth album, if you don’t count that weird first album that had “the Laughing Gnome” on it. Mick Ronson, who died in 1993. He runs through the songs we all know well from the albums with a few glitches – Ronson’s guitar roars at times, sputters at others – with only Space Oddity sounding a bit off with the humming instead of the crescendoing noise of Major Tom’s liftoff. “My Death” is a great acoustic song, part of a set with “Space Oddity” and “Andy Warhol.” The best song on the CD is “The Width of a Circle, which just goes on for over 10 blistering minutes. The CD comes in a pretty card envelope, also a booklet and poster and four cards done like promotional posters of the time. Nice stuff, but nothing really very inspired or worth the premium I paid with it.

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