Just to let y’all know, I have university finals in less than a month, and so Thousand Mile Journey is going on hold until they’re over. Really need to buckle down and do some work before it’s too late!
In the meantime, I’d like to draw your attention to Rhinospike which launched recently – it’s a site where you can post things you’d like read out by native speakers. Obviously, it’s a reciprocal agreement, and it’s weighted such that the more texts you read out for other people, the faster your own requests will be dealt with. Anyway, have a look, because audio with transcriptions is a fantastic thing to learn from (especially in conjunction with an SRS!).
As a final interesting curiosity, it turns out that unlike Mandarin, in which tones are summarily ignored in songwriting, Cantonese songs tend to have the melody follow the tones of the lyrics. I was amazed to be told this because it would seem to restrict the number of “allowed” melodies. Paying attention to the music on my iPod, I would suggest that it’s generally true (and is especially obvious with rising and falling tones). Anyway, it has a number of interesting consequences – for Cantonese learners, listening to Cantopop might be good for improving tone production and recognition; also, how far can a melody be pushed before it falls outside the “allowed” bounds? Why can Mandarin songs be understood even when they ignore tones? Thought it was interesting from both linguistic and musical points of view.
Anyway, (for now at least) that’s all folks – best of luck to everyone with whatever you’re learning – don’t give up! 加油, がんばってよ and bonne chance!! 😀
 I could make a crack along the lines of “maybe this is why all Cantopop sounds the same”… but I won’t.