Easy Listening (Part 2): Debs G’s Podcast Favourites

ABC, I hear you about listening to podcasts during recuperation from the dreaded lergy.

I often suffer from migraines which means that I need sit in a completely dark room, and podcasts are extremely comforting to me. I also enjoy listening to them when I’m doing housework – they just make time fly!

Here are four podcasts that help me to relax:
1. A Prairie Home Companion by American Public Media

I have talked about this radio show in passing before, and it is one of the favourites in the Owls Well household. The Prairie Home Companion is a radio variety show featuring American folk music alongside comedy sketches (complete with sound effects) and musical interludes from fictional sponsors. This show never fails to put a smile on my face and I often find myself tuning into it when I need a pick-me-up.

Producer and show runner Garrison Keillor, he of the golden radio voice, has now retired and his mantle has fallen upon musician and songwriter, Chris Thile. Chris Thile may not have the same deep and smooth timbre as his predecessor, but the man does sing like a nightingale and he’s also very, very funny, so he is forgiven.

(For those of you who, like myself, miss Garrison Keillor, he is to be found and heard on The Writer’s Almanac where he reads a poem every day and tells stories about significant events in literary history.)

2. Welcome to Night Vale by Night Vale Presents 1424727845212

Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, this podcast features the mellifluous bass tones of Cecil Baldwin. The fictional desert town of Night Vale is a strange place where all the conspiracy theories are real and the Night Vale radio show host, Cecil, reports on the local weather including the large cloud that glows in many colours (ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD), various cultural events, and announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police.

On evenings when The Barn Owl is on call, I often play an episode from Welcome to Night Vale and fall asleep. I find that afterwards I get the most interesting and psychedelic dreams.

11312636_10101329805815525_5002516714209367793_o.jpg3. Astronomy Cast by Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay

This is an educational podcast that discusses various topics in the field of astronomy through the form of a light-hearted conversation between co-hosts Frasier Cain (editor of the space and astronomy news site Universe Today) and Dr Pamela Gay (Professor of Astronomy at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville).

I love listening and learning, and letting Dr Pamela Gay’s soothing warm alto tones wash over my ears as I’m pottering about the house.

17971953_448676435476708_6086957621977028490_o4. Story Not Story by Chyna & Craig

This is a super cute podcast that is great for unwinding at the end of the day! Story Not Story features a married couple, Chyna and Craig, relaxing together and telling each other bedtime stories. I enjoy hearing Craig and Chyna banter with each other – they are sweet and funny and just adorable.

The fun part for me is trying to guess where each story is going to go and I am usually very pleasantly surprised. You’ll definitely be a butter person for hearing them!

(And you can also see more of Craig and Chyna over at the Youtube channel, Wheezy Waiter.)


A 2016 Christmas Party Playlist

This year, I’m really looking forward to the Christmas Weekend and all the games, music and storytelling that we’ve got planned over here in the Owls Well household!

If you are hosting or throwing a Christmas party this year, here is the Owls Well Christmas 2016 playlist, with all of my handpicked favourite videos from Youtube! I’ve tried to feature more local artistes this year too. This playlist is roughly an hour long, so it’s a good one to put in the background when everyone is eating their Christmas Dinner, or stick on for the kiddies to watch whilst everyone is busy with preparations!

P.S. If you are looking for a much longer playlist to encompass all of party time, check out the Owls Well Christmas 2013 Playlist here.

Blatant Self Promotion 2015 (Or, An Owls Well Year in Music)

At Owls Well, we like to look back over the major events that have occurred in the Owls Well universe during the past year. Every year, WordPress gives us a report on the top posts on our blog. Their report is always rubbish. (If you want to see their report, go here)

Instead, A Becky Lee and I have put together our own guide to some of our favourite posts from 2015, and we are also adding in some recommended listening music to accompany each one! Bonus!

We have put the the full music playlist that summarises the ups and downs and madnesses of an Owls Well year in the handy-dandy playlist below!  So put your headphones on and enjoy the ride!

Debs G’s favourite posts:

Learn how to curate after school activities for kids.

Recommended Music: Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice

Organising the living room into a family friendly space.

Recommended Music: Pharrell Williams – Happy

Introducing Peranakan Culture to the Kids.

Recommended Music: Redbone – Come and Get Your Love

Everything’s ok when we’re on Vacation! To Disneyworld!

Recommended Music: Rhett & Link – I’m On Vacation

Thumper’s explosive arrival into our family.

Recommended Music: David Bowie – Dance Magic

A Becky Lee’s Favourite Posts:

Farewell Sir PTerry.

Recommended Music: Rufus Wainwright – Hallelujah

Live the Dream

We bought a house!

Recommended Music: Postmodern Jukebox – Wiggle

Masterful entertaining with Spinach Puffs.

Recommended Music: Homestarrunner – Fisheye Lens

Levelling up the relationship.

Recommended Music: OMI – Cheerleader

In conversation with the Barn Owl: Modern Music

Editor’s note: I’ve inserted the links for the songs mentioned in this post – for the full multimedia experience, play the music videos as you continue reading.

(We’re in the car listening to the radio. It’s playing Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”.)

Barn Owl: What’s with this song? The words are terrible. He sounds like one of those clip-board people.

Debs G: What people now?

Barn Owl: The survey people. The ones who stand on the street with clipboards going, “Ah, ‘scuse me, can I take 5 minutes of your time? Just 5 minutes.”

Debs G: Actually, I thought he was saying, “I just wanna waste your time.” Because he doesn’t sound like he wants to do anything worthwhile in this love song. Is it a love song?

Barn Owl: It’s not a love song, I’m telling you. It’s a street surveyor song. Songwriters are running out of things to write about.

Debs G: You might be right. I’ve noticed this trend in songs where there are references to another pop musician.

Barn Owl: That is not new, people have been inserting references to other musicians in their songs since forever. Like that song about Buddy Holly’s death by that country singer.

Debs G: No, not like that, I mean, that the song uses another pop musician’s name as part of the title and main lyrics and it’s supposed to be a compliment or something. You know, like ‘Moves like Jagger’. The whole chorus is all about being able to dance like Mick Jagger.

Barn Owl: Mick Jagger is NOT known for his moves. That guy cannot dance.

Debs G: There’s a song called ‘Walks like Rihanna‘.

Barn Owl: She has a nice walk?

Debs G: Beats me. I’ve never heard anyone talk about Rihanna’s walk like it was anything special.

Barn Owl: Then wouldn’t saying ‘she walks like Rihanna’ be kind of the same as saying ‘Walks like a normal person who has legs’? I don’t get it.

Debs G: Oh oh oh and I just heard on the radio, a song where the main chorus is like ‘Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on’.

Barn Owl: Maybe it’s popular now to make reference to retro musicians.

Debs G: What do you mean ‘retro’? Rihanna is not ‘retro’. Rihanna is new. Rihanna is current!

Barn Owl: Rihanna is NOT new. She’s been around for, what, ten years now?

Debs G: (spluttering now) What? No, wait, what? She’s not retro! Is she? She’s not!

Barn Owl: Your younger cousin, the fashionable one, started sporting that Rihanna hairdo when? About 6-7 years ago? Around the time when her song on came out on Glee?

(long silence)


A Peranakan Peregrination: A Cultural Day Out with Kids

Recently, I convinced the Aged Ps to take the kids for a Peranakan Day Out, so that they can learn more about Peranakan culture and what it means to be a Baba or a Nyonya.

Here’s how you can enjoy your own Peranakan Day Out in 10 easy steps!

Video Footnotes:

This is a really great book that not only introduces the Peranakan Museum and it’s highlights, but gives some easy to read information about Peranakan culture. In the book, Stacey visits the museum and has an adventure with a mysterious girl who takes her on a personal tour!

I really love the detailed illustrations by James Tan, and it really is such a treat to be able to read the book to the kids, and then see their reaction once they reach the museum and recognise the things that they see in the pictures.

I was very fortunate to have received a copy of this book from Armour Publishing for review, but you can get your own copy from the Peranakan Museum shop or direct from the Armour Publishing website. The book is part of the Stacey & the Museum series by Lianne Ong – here’s a review and book trailer that I made for the first book in the series, Stacey Goes to the National Museum.

The Peranakan Museum is a wonderful little museum installed in the former Tao Nan Chinese School, and has a beautiful and extensive collection of Peranakan objects, wonderfully curated in a manner that illustrates the tradition and distinctive artistic style of the Peranakan community.

There are many interactive components for children within the museum, some on large computer touch screens, and others requiring and encouraging children to touch and handle vintage objects. J and Little E enjoyed running around the museum completing a little treasure hunt – the activity sheet can be collected at the information counter.

We visited the museum with the Aged P, who is of course a true Peranakan but there are guided tours conducted daily by volunteers (most of whom are also Peranakan or are scholars of Southeast Asian culture) are more than happy to regale you with personal stories about Peranakan traditions!

The Peranakan Museum is open daily from 10am – 7pm (extended hours to 9pm on Fridays) and is located on 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941. Admission is free for Singaporean Citizens and PRs, as well as for children under 6 years old.

At the Peranakan Museum and Daisy's Dream Kitchen

At the Peranakan Museum and Daisy’s Dream Kitchen

  • Peranakan Food in Singapore

We ate at Daisy’s Dream Kitchen, which is a small little family-run eatery over in the West Coast serving Peranakan food as well as a selection of other local dishes.

The food is delicious and reasonably priced, with a lovely home cooked flavour and the Aged Ps deem it ‘Cheap and Good’ (which by their standards, is very good indeed). Peranakan food tends to be very rich, so I was surprised and glad to see that the dishes served were not swimming in grease, but were low in salt and oil with no loss to the fullness of flavour. We even met Daisy’s kids and grandkids, who had dropped in for lunch, the little 5 year old grandson even coming to our table to thank us for visiting! What a little charmer.

Daisy’s Dream Kitchen is open from Tues-Sun from 11am-3pm and 6pm-10pm at Block 517 West Coast Road, #01-571, S(120517), Tel: 6779 1781

If you are looking for a fancier Peranakan restaurant with a larger range of traditional dishes, prepared and displayed in a traditional manner, the Aged Ps recommend The Blue Ginger Restaurant, which is where they like to bring out-of-towners when they want to truly impress.

To get a true taste of Peranakan culture, the Aged Ps recommend that you try the Nyonya-style Ngoh Hiang, the Bakwan Kepiting soup, the Babi Ponteh stewed pork and the Ayam Buah Keluak stuffed blacknut when you are visiting a Peranakan Restaurant.

  • Peranakan music

Peranakans are known for their involvement in Dondang Sayang (Love ballad) and Keroncong (Malay-style ukelele band) forms of music.

The Aged Ps were very insistent that I chose the correct kind of music to accompany this video, and so I have gone for the Dondang Sayang style of Peranakan music. The Dondang Sayang style is exemplified by the exchange of lighthearted and cheeky malay poetry (or ‘pantun‘) between two singers.

The song that I use in this video, Rasa Sayang, is a very popular local folk song in the traditional Dondang Sayang form and the chorus goes:

Rasa sayang, hey! (Loving feelings, hey!)
Rasa sayang-sayang hey, (Lots of loving feelings, hey!)
Lihat nona dari jauh (Admiring a pretty girl from afar)
Rasa sayang-sayang, hey (Lots of loving feelings, hey!)

(Ironically, the version of Rasa Sayang  that I used is recorded by a Japanese artiste, Lisa Ono!)

  • Peranakan Fashions
Little Nyonya proudly wearing her kebaya!

Little Nyonya proudly wearing her kebaya!

We didn’t include a visit to a dressmaker to try out fancy Peranakan fashions and learn how to tie a sarong in the traditional way, but that would be a fun way to round off the day with an impromptu fashion show, especially if you have kids who love dressing up.

We love Toko Aljunied for their beautiful kebayas and batik shirts – you can find out more about this wonderful purveyor of fine Peranakan fashions for kids and adults here.

Midweek Break: Musical Anachronisms

One of our favourite video game series over at here at Owls Well is the BioShock franchise, which has won awards for not only for its provocative, morality-driven storyline and but also for its vintage-inspired game design which is rich in detail.

In the latest release, BioShock Infinite, this attention to detail extends even to the soundtrack, which (in keeping with the time travel theme) includes musical anachronisms – the reimagining of current pop music in the style of an earlier music era.

A Becky Lee recently introduced me to the PostModern Jukebox, a band which features music arranged by Scott Bradlee, who was the musical genius behind the Bioshock Infinite musical anachronisms.

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox (Picture Credit: Postmodern Jukebox)

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (Picture Credit: Postmodern Jukebox)

I really love this particular arrangement of “My Heart Will Go On” (yes, that soppy ballad from the movie “Titanic”) done in the style of a 1950s Frankie Valli doo-wop! It makes me smile and I always find myself unconsciously jiving along!

I also love this jazzy cover of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” which features some really impressive and powerful vocals!

Anyhow, I was driving past the bus stop yesterday and was surprised to see a poster for PostModern Jukebox!

Apparently they are doing a world tour and will be travelling to various locations in Australia between 2 – 11 September, and will also in Singapore on the 13 September 2015, performing at our own Kallang Theatre! Isn’t that cool?

A Becky Lee, I am unable to watch them because bringing an infant to a live music concert isn’t fair to other concertgoers, so you better get yourself some tickets so that I can live vicariously through your experience!

P.S. Here’s one more of their tunes for the road – this Motown style cover of Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” may not be terribly different from the original version, but what really stands out is the Tambourine Guy strutting his stuff in the background! He makes me laugh!

P.P.S If you want to see all these videos and more of our favourite musical anachronisms, check out our playlist at the OwlsWellVlogs Youtube Channel!

An SG50 Playlist

In preparation for the upcoming SG50 celebrations, here’s a little playlist of my favourite bits of music on youtube which I feel are most representative of what Singapore means to me.

In this playlist there’s a little complaining song (about a home that you love), a tamil song played on a traditional chinese instrument by a malay boy, a malay song played by a chinese orchestra, a song showing how far our public healthcare system has come, a song about home by people living in various care homes, and a song about a legacy.


P.S. Let me know in the comments which was your favourite song in the playlist, or if you have a favourite National Day song!