29 November 2009


What's a Picture Worth to You?

How about three pictures?

I apologise in advance for the terrible eyeshadow. I was in a hurry to leave the house and get to the meeting point.

27 November 2009


Thirteen Things about The Twilight Saga: New Moon

13) Last year, even my friends who thought Stephenie Meyer's novel Twilight was dumb were willing to watch the movie. This year, I couldn't hustle a single one of them to watch New Moon with me. It should have been my first clue, you know . . .

12) "You give me everything by just breathing." -- Edward to Bella

Yes, that is an actual line from the movie. All scenes with Edward just careened downhill after that. I don't know how Robert Pattinson can stand to look at himself in the mirror every morning.

11) "Since when are you into motorcycles?" -- Jacob to Bella

Since she turned into a heartless, people-using tease with deviant desires. That's when! -- Enbrethiliel to Jacob

26 November 2009


"The Greatest of [Country Songs] Is an Inventory"
(Can you recall the original quote by G.K. Chesterton?)

My original plan was to have a Top 5 List of nihilistic BritPop anthems from the 90s. (Please don't ask.) I soon realised, however, that that would totally go against the spirit of this blog. Shredded Cheddar is meant to be a force of good in the world, no matter what certain readers think. (Right, Christopher?)

I don't believe that everything is ultimately nothing, and I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson's observation that--

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Now, that doesn't mean that we need stuff to make us happy. In fact, I'll bet I could make a good case for unlimited stuff being at the root of much of modern nihilism. What Stevenson does mean is that when one is disposed to be happy, all the things in the world seems to conspire with each other to make one as happy as he believes he could be. And what better response to all these cheerfully conspiratorial things than to write a song about them?

Okay! Now let's have some Country . . .

My amateur opinion is that there are two kinds of Country songs: those that tell stories and those that share lists. In honour of today's holiday, during which Americans gather together to be thankful for the blessings in their lives, I offer five of the latter type.

My Top 5 Country Music "Lists"

1) Chicken Fried by The Zac Brown Band

This is a song about everything one has learned to love--and be thankful for--since childhood. It's true that the simple things are what mean the most in the end . . . and what are best to sing about in the meantime.

24 November 2009


Reading Diary: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
(NOTE: This is now a Book Review Party entry.)

All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.

Whether this be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge.

I sometimes think it might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others; but the world may judge for itself.

Shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture; and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend.

So begins the history--it is not allowed to be "just" a tale--of woman who used to work as a governess.

23 November 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 9


You may be wondering about little Flatbread and Hummous. Now that he is my latest tutee, he deserves all the dignity of his own G.I. Joe name . . . so let's call him Lug Wrench from now on, shall we?

He is quite the character . . .

19 November 2009


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 4

"I believe it was my photographs that you threw away."

"I didn't know what to do with them," he cried, and his voice was that of an anxious boy. Her heart warmed towards him for the first time. "They were covered with blood. There! I'm glad I've told you; and all the time we were making conversation I was wondering what to do with them." He pointed downstream. "They've gone. The river swirled under the bridge. "I did mind them so, and one is so foolish, it seemed better that they should go out to the sea--I don't know; I just mean that they frightened me." Then the boy verged into a man. "For something tremendous has happened. I must face it without getting muddled. It isn't exactly that a man has died."

You know, I think I've always liked George Emerson.

So now let me dedicate this post and the comments that follow to him . . .


18 November 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 8


In case anyone was thinking that I'm this natural teacher and fantastic tutor to children who just love me . . .

Well, let me just say that my classroom tactics may be the only time anyone could ever describe me as "unorthodox."

17 November 2009


Team Taylor Tuesday: Tim McGraw

For those of you who haven't heard it and think I'm weird right now, I'm just gonna go ahead and explain myself. It's not really about Tim McGraw and I'm not a stalker. It's really about two people who fall in love and their song's a Tim McGraw song. And I think it really deals with the power of Country music and how it has the power to haunt you, and take you back to places where you first heard that song . . .

Wasn't that lovely?

(I'll even admit that Country is more haunting than Synth Pop!)

Tim McGraw is a very bittersweet song and yet very satisfying to play.

Now it's lesson time! =D

16 November 2009


These Dreams: Time Travel

In the grand, if still young Shredded Cheddar tradition of letting it all hang out on the Internet, I'm going to give the world wide web a peek into my subconscious mind.

Last week, I had a dream about one of the following English bands from the 80s.

TheClash Photobucket

NewOrder OrchestralManoeuvresDark

TheSmiths SpandauBallet

I know I've only divulged the name of the band to one other person on this planet. I warn him now that if he reveals it to anyone else, I shall never speak to him again. Ever. Except, perhaps, in Heaven. But does he really want to wait that long? Especially when divulging the secret would only lengthen his stay in Purgatory anyway?

So now for the story, which I fancy is still pretty interesting, despite my having withheld all incriminating names of people and places . . .

15 November 2009


I [Heart] T.B. Player


Remember the movie That Thing You Do?

One of my cousins didn't like the way it ended. She was sad that the bass player's name is never revealed and that even in the end credits Ethan Embry's character is called "T.B. Player." I tried to explain that it was a joke and her sister tried to explain that it was a metaphor . . . and of course, my dear cousin tried to explain that every nameless musician is also a person.

Don't you love it when everyone has a different contribution and yet everyone is right? It's like playing the same song with different instruments. You know, like a band . . .

And, yeah, what would their only hit have been without that solid low end from T.B. Player? (Hint: it wouldn't have been a hit.) I actually like him best on Little Wild One . . . and all Wonders fans will agree (or else face my wrath) that he is the reason All My Only Dreams is even remotely sexy.

That Thing You Do made a valuable contribution to my now full-blown bias when it comes to musicians who play the bass guitar. This post is for five of my favourites.

My Top 5 Bass Players

1) Paul McCartney (The Beatles)

McCartney has achieved so much over his decade-spanning career that we often forget that he started as the Fab Four's T.B. Player--and was a d*** good one!

14 November 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 7
(Note: This has a companion post at my main blog--Education in the Dark Ages.)

My cousin Fire Storm may be my most well behaved student, but he's the most academically challenging. Remember that I don't merely help him with his homework, but actually take charge of most of his homeschooling. This means we are learning English, Filipino, History and Science together, with me leading the way. (It's horrifying already, isn't it?)

A short while ago, I read an article by a homeschooling mother who admits that she is hardly qualified to teach all the subjects her children had to learn. Yet homeschooling works for her family because she doesn't think that learning always depends on an adult authority imparting knowledge to a child. She has found that learning happens just as effectively when an adult and a child get to explore something new together.

Now, I just love that reflection--and yet, because Fire Storm is not my own son, I worry that it's not a professional way to think.

13 November 2009


(Steinbeck's) Seven Quick Takes
(Note: Check out this week's Quick Takes round up on Conversion Diary.)


I'm going to pretend this is a Book Blog, at least for today . . .

(You do recall who Steinbeck is, right? . . . Yeah, I name everything.)

7. My first draft of this post included short takes on books that I've been reading and thinking about. I edited them out today because I felt that I was marginalising my "Reading Diary" feature. This throws a small spanner into my plan to let future Quick Takes address the following seven points: Books, Food/Recipes, Christine/Guitar (or Music in general), Movies, Work (Freelancing or Teaching), 80s Nostalgia . . . and a "wild card." Then again, there's more to blogging about books than just books, you know! ;-)

12 November 2009


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 3

"The Signorina had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"

"And a Cockney besides!" said Lucy, who had been further saddened by the Signorina's unexpected accent. "It might be London." She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M.A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration on the wall. "Charlotte, don't you feel, too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all kinds of things are just outside . . ."

11 November 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 6


Sometimes I feel as if a tutor's job involves little more than following after teachers with a mop and a bucket.

It's not that teachers routinely make messes that other people have to clean up, but that there are certain messes which teachers don't believe it is their job to clean up. Speaking from my own experience, if I had a class of seventeen year old girls, all of whom were planning to go to uni in a year's time, I'd expect a certain level of performance from them. If they find it hard to understand an assigned text, I'd be glad to make that the starting point of our discussion. If they find it hard to understand certain words in the text, I'd expect them to know how to look up the words' meanings on their own. Any teacher will tell you that, after a certain point, if you can't swim, then you'll just have to sink.

Today, I find myself rescuing students whom, in my former position of power, I used to banish to watery graves. It's a whole other experience of the education industry--and a saddening reminder that, in much of this modern world, education is viewed as just another industry.

So how are the little darlings faring on my assembly line?

10 November 2009


Team Taylor Tuesday: Fan Feature

First of all, I apologise to the legions of Taylor Swift fans who follow this blog (Hi, Marianne and family!) for completely forgetting Team Taylor Tuesday last week!

To add insult to injury, it is not Taylor I feature tonight, but one of her fans. However, I found him really funny and likeable, and have already enjoyed his parody of Teardrops on My Guitar several times. Give it a try:

(Yes, the audio and video are not in sync, but that's a small flaw.)

08 November 2009


Reading Diary: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mrs. Norris was often observing to the others that she could not get her poor sister and her family out of her head, and that, much as they had all done for her, she seemed to be wanting to do more; and at length she could not but own it to be her wish, that poor Mrs. Price should be relieved from the charge and expense of one child entirely out of her great number.

"What if they were among them to undertake the care of her eldest daughter, a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more attention than her poor mother could possibly give? The trouble and expense of it to them would be nothing, compared with the benevolence of action."

Lady Bertram agreed with her instantly. "I think we cannot do better," said she; "let us send for the child."

I've just remembered that my Reading Diary is meant to be an informal record of all my reading and not necessarily a collection of reviews. This takes some of the pressure off, and I'm relieved to say that what follows is definitely not a review.

07 November 2009


The Sum of a Song's Parts

"What I am searching for, I suppose, is a unified field theory that defines what I like about sound."

-- Chuck Klosterman attempts to answer the question "What kind of music do you like?"

I don't suppose the analytical approach to music is the right one, but I like the exercise Mr. Klosterman has developed for himself.

It didn't work with the songs I "consistently enjoy the most," because all their musical threads are woven together so perfectly (to my untrained ear, at least) that I wouldn't know the first thing about picking them apart. So I settled for five songs (well, four songs and one composition) which have often struck me as experiments in sound as much as "pure" music.

My Top 5 "Parts of Songs"

1) From Duran Duran's Wild Boys: The Chanting

What Duranie hasn't done the back-and-forth "Wild boys!" chant with a fellow fan?

(Roger Taylor's percussion effects are great, too. I try to tap out the same beat with whatever is handy when the song comes on. Then there's John Taylor's effortless, relentless bass guitar . . . and Andy Taylor's short but soaring guitar solo . . . Really, this song is just begging to be chopped apart and loved for its bits and pieces, isn't it?)

05 November 2009


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 2


Book Clubbers: Shall we finally break the ice? =)

Non-Clubbers: Books? What books? All we actually do is play these crazy games until we pass out from all the non-literary fun. Really.

04 November 2009


Writing Diary: Entry #12

Before we finally launch into our first "Two or Three" Book Club discussion tomorrow, I wanted to share the first article my editor wouldn't take.

Since I'm not going to be paid for it at all, I can do what I want with it; and right now, what I want is for it to be read.

When I stopped by the publishing office a few days ago (while we were both still mixed up about what they wanted from me), my editor told me that the Foodie magazine she had asked me to write for had been scrapped by the publishers. Apparently, a meeting with pessimistic advertisers had swayed them to nix the idea. There are currently eight or nine Foodie magazines competing for a slice of the national readership, and several of them have had such poor sales (not necessarily low, just below target) that the advertisers don't believe that there is room for yet another publication.

That means that I am getting paid for the two articles I already submitted, but that nobody will ever read them . . . which is actually worse than not getting paid for an article which at least some people get to read. I would know, wouldn't I?

So here, for your free reading pleasure (or probably not), is the article on TV celebrities, which is still mine to do what I like with. I removed the TV guide's name and inserted this blog's name, which is only right. (Oh, and I added the modifier "irresistible" to the phrase "TV candy.")

02 November 2009


Reading Diary: Pep Talk: Inspiration from America's Greatest Coaches
(Update: This is now a Book Review Party entry.)

This book offers words of wisdom from my peers who have helped others overcome their obstacles and achieve their goals.

We all need encouragement at some point, from the President of the United States on down to the lowest employee. Share these words with those around you and motivate them to be the best they can be.

-- Tommy Lasorda, Foreword

What has sport to do with words? Feats of bodily strength, speed and agility don't seem to need the "small member" that is the tongue. On the playing field, one's actions should speak for oneself--and sport would certainly give new meaning to "body language," if a prose snob would only let it.

And yet words are necessary to athletics: the right words at the right time can make the difference where talent, training and endurance are equal. It's almost magical . . . and we amazed mortals watching from the stands hope we can distill a bit of the magic for ourselves by preserving the words in print.