Friday, 29 October 2004

Borders crossing borders!

I don't know whether to rejoice or to despair. Borders will be opening their first bookstore in Malaysia next year, and it will be in.. wait for it... Berjaya Times Square!

Yes, Berjaya Times Square. The brainchild from the company owned by the Donald Trump of Malaysia, a shopping mall so sprawling, so large, and so unorganised that I have avoided going there like the plague.

The Borders shop is reportedly scheduled to open in April 2005, and rumoured to be the LARGEST bookstore in ASIA. Again, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I LOATHE going to Berjaya Times Square, but the lure of such a HUGE bookstore may... just.. be... too.. great.

Then again, maybe not. The thought of braving the traffic jams in Jalan Imbi or the expensive, inconsistent Monorail just to go to that Ah Beng-ridden termite-warren may just deter me from going to Borders too often. Oh well, guess I shall stick to Kinokuniya and Payless instead.

Thursday, 28 October 2004

Marking your territory (or how to show off your RM30 bookmark)

I hate it when this happens. You're merrily reading a book, so intensely engrossed in the story that your eyes can't even leave the pages for five seconds; when the phone rings. You put down the book (carefully using the TV remote to mark the page), and go answer the call. Five minutes later, you get back to the book only to discover that someone has taken the remote OUT of the book and you've lost your place in the book. So you have to start flipping pages to find it while carefully avoiding flipping to the ones you have NOT read in case they might include spoilers.

Ok, maybe this sort of thing only happens to me, but it's annoying nonetheless. Why can't people see that when a remote is stuck in the middle of a book, it's there for a REASON?

I guess that's why they invented bookmarks then. Not the types that are marked ASTRO or SONY DVD, but actual bookmarks, those little glossy rectangular-shaped cardboard pieces that sometimes have a pointy end with a hole and a cute ribbon.

Over the years, I have used a number of objects as bookmarks. Besides the occasional remote control, I have also stuck pens (hence the ink blots in some of my books), spoons (which accounts for one unfortunate incident where I forgot I was actually USING it), tissue paper (doesn't work very well because the tissue gets so flat that you can never find later), RM1.00 notes (got stolen once), fingers, toes, mobile phones, other books (The Tale of Peter Rabbit comes in very handy sometimes), and even bananas (unpeeled, of course). On the occasions when I can't find a proper inanimate objects, I sometimes do what many avid readers hate doing - dog-ear the page.

In case you're wondering why I use these odd objects as bookmarks when REAL ones are a dime a dozen, it's because most of the REAL bookmarks I had (many of these containing advertisements for banks, insurance companies and charity organizations) have all somehow mysteriously disappeared (probably because they were mostly advertisements for banks, insurance companies and charity organizations).

Actually, I am now using a set of bookmarks that a friend gave me for my birthday this year. These LOTR-themed bookmarks are officially licensed from New Line Cinema, and were bought from the official LOTR fan club's website for approximately RM30 EACH. My favorite is this pretty thing:



Nice, eh? It's a mini replica of a Rohan banner, made from fabric with a small wooden hanging rod and costs USD5.99 EACH. Needless to say, I won't be losing THIS bookmark in a hurry. It also makes an interesting conversational piece. I was once reading a book at a cafe, when someone just came up to me and asked me about the bookmark and where I had got it from. And she was quite cute too. :-)

Another type of bookmark I often use are postcards. These may not count as actual 'bookmarks' per se, but they are actually some of the best bookmark-y things around. They're easily available from free postcard stands, have some very cool designs (unless you happen to get a crappy one advertising insurance companies), and best of all, their size and thickness is just PERFECT for marking pages in ANY book.

Beats a banana any day. Trust me, I know.

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

Contraceptive Contraptions and Squirting Spoons

The past few days have been fun, mainly because I seem have been discussing a lot of grammatical bloopers and wrongly used words/phrases with various people. While the following examples were damn funny, they also made me extra careful with my work lately.


1) Spotted on the synopsis on the back of a pirated DVD for "The Jungle Book 2":

Jungle Book 2 is exactly like the original movie, without the originality and the charm

Don't you just love how pirate DVD makers just lift random reviews for their movie synopsis'?


2) Spotted in a press release for a new mayonnaise bottle

Now, the new mayonnaise squirt bottle is convenient to use. You can now squirt the Mayo on your food with having to do any scooping or spooning

I wonder if the writer even knows what 'spooning' means, or how to 'squirt' without spooning...


3) Spotted in a product promo about a lawnmower

Thanks to the rotation of the metal blade, the grass gets swept into the 35l plastic container affixed to the back of the machine. The contraception reminded me of a large ant with a big backside! As you move along, the grass fills up the bag. It is easily removed, emptied and fixed again for the next load. The bag is wonderful as you don't need to sweep the mess later.

I REALLY don't wanna know how the lawnmower is used as a contraceptive. The effects must be pretty permanent. And you don't even have to worry about the mess later!

The actual article was actually pretty harmless, but when read in a contraceptive context, the whole thing just became one innuendo after another - 'the risks are minimal', 'a big weekend affair in which the whole family would chip in', taking 'a lot of energy to push it around', and my favorite: 'is available at HomeFix and Jusco Homecentre'.

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PS: At the advice of Jayeagle, I have installed the Haloscan comment thingy. Thanks dude!

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

What Frodo REALLY did with the One Ring

Ever wondered what Frodo would have done with the One Ring if Gandalf had not shown up?

Monday, 25 October 2004

Book Review: Going Postal (Pratchett)

I finished this book in slightly more than a day, which is almost a record for me. (My personal best is finishing the bloody 800-paged Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in six hours at KLCC, just because I wanted to find out who died, and win the office pool)

Anyway, here's the mini-review for Going Postal:

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Title: Going Postal
Author: Terry Pratchett

Where to get it: The hardcover version (both UK & US covers) were spotted in Kinokuniya KLCC and Times Bookstore, going for RM99.90. I think it's safe to say most major bookstores would have it already.

Synopsis:
Moist von Lipwig was a con artist and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet.

It was a tough decision.

But he's got to see that the mail gets though, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, and a midnight killer.

Getting a date with Adora Bell Dearheart would be nice, too.

Maybe it'll take a criminal to succeed where honest men have failed, or maybe it's a death sentence either way.

Or perhaps there's a shot at redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who's prepared to push the envelope...

Main Characters:
  • Moist von Lipwig - A con artist who is hanged, brought back to life (sort of) and hired to bring the Ankh-Morpork post office back to life
  • Lord Vetinari - Ankh-Morpork's Patrician (that's mayor in non-Discworld-speak)
  • Gilt Reacher - The Chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company (sort of like the Telekom of Discworld, including the lousy service, high rates and money-gobbling executives) who goes around with an eye patch and has a cockerel that shouts "twelve and a half percent!" all the time
  • Adora Bell Dearheart - The clerk in charge of The Golem Trust, which well, takes care of golems
  • Mr Pump - A Golem
  • Stanley - Pinhead Extraordinare
  • Mr Groat - A crusty old postman who believes in 'natural medicine'
What it's all about:
The cover synopsis says it all, really. Pratchett tackles the Internet, hackers, postmen, evil monopolies and robots in this book, and pulls off another brilliant story.

What I liked about it:
I know I've said this before, but here it is again - Well, it's Pratchett. What's not to like? Here are some reasons:
  • Moist von Lipwig may be a new character, but he is an interesting addition to the already established Discworld cast of main characters, and I actually look forward to seeing more of him.
  • The allusions here are brilliant, especially those that directly parodize the Internet, viruses, nerds, evil corporations, and even stamp collectors
  • I like the way that Ankh-Morpork has evolved from the first few Discworld books where it was just a PLACE with lots of people and wizards; into a thriving metropolis with a competent Watch, 'modern' technology and a lot of attitude. It's like the city has it's own PERSONALITY!
  • I enjoyed seeing more of Lord Vetinari here. He is one of my favorite characters, and the way he manipulates everything around him is just so interesting.

For more, look out for my full review later. :-)

What I dislike about it:
I'm quite bias about Pratchett's books, so I usually just say I didn't find any faults in it. But well here goes:

  • It's too short!
  • Some gags were recycled, but thankfully, not the David-Eddings kind of wholesale joke-recycling

Ok, that's it. I guess.

Reviewer: Eyeris

Saturday, 23 October 2004

Other new books

Yesterday, while searching for Going Postal, I also came across these three new titles from several other fantasy authors that I plan to buy (but will most likely wait for the paperback though):


1) Raymond E. Feist - Exile's Return (Book 3 of the Conclave of Shadows)


2) David & Leigh Eddings - The Treasured One (Book 2 of The Dreamers)


3) R.A. Salvatore - The Two Swords (Book 3 in the Hunter's Blade Trilogy)

Friday, 22 October 2004

Going Postal Nuts!

I got the new Pratchett book! I got the new Pratchett book!

Ok ok, enough celebrating. It's just that a new Pratchett book has always been the highlight of my year since I got hooked on his books, and I always snap up the first one I see. Well, most of the time.

This time, I found Going Postal in KLCC's Kinokuniya and Times Bookstore. Both the US and the UK versions were available, but I prefered the UK version because the cover illustration looks funnier.

The retail price in both stores is RM99.90, but I bought mine from Times because my Times Membership entitles me to a 10 percent dicsount. :-)

Anyway, within half an hour of buying the book, I had already devoured three whole chapters (not including the two short prologues), and will continue to do so as soon as I get this post done. That said.... seeya!

Pratchett's new book is out!

Oh blast. I just found out that Terry Pratchett's new book - Going Postal - is out already. After spoofing policemen, soldiers, Hollywood actors, rock n' roll singers and other assorted occupations, Pratchett now tackles the postmen in this book. sounds promising, judging from the synopsis. Now, I wonder if any KL bookshops have it already...

Here's the book's cover and synopsis.



Synopsis:
Moist von Lipwig was a con artist and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet. It was a tough decision. But he's got to see that the mail gets though, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, and a midnight killer. Getting a date with Adora Bell Dearheart would be nice, too. Maybe it'll take a criminal to succeed where honest men have failed, or maybe it's a death sentence either way. Or perhaps there's a shot at redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who's prepared to push the envelope...

Thursday, 21 October 2004

Movie Review: Super Size Me

Another sidetrack from books. I watched Super Size Me last night, and it is safe to say that I will never willingly buy another French Fry from McDonald's again. Here's my thoughts on the movie, in mini-review format:

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Title: Super Size Me

Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Morgan Spurlock

What it's all about: For 30 days, Spurlock eats and drinks food that is on the menu of McDonald's only to find out how it would affect his body. At the same time, hitting out at America's fast food chains, which are making the US the fattest nation in the world.

What I liked about it:
  • The way Spurlock structured his film was pretty cool
  • The message was loud and clear
  • The scene where he eats his first Super Size meal and throws up was particularly memorable
  • The part where his girlfriend talks about their sex life after he went on this crazy experiment was pretty funny
What I didn't like about it:
  • Some parts, especially the operation where a patient has his stomach reduced was pretty disgusting, and probably put into the film for pure shock factor.
  • I was disappointed that it didn't have any McDonald's staff coming out to say anything. It would have been so much more interesting
DVD Extras
I haven't seen all the extras, but the one where Spurlock shows how McDonald's food rots and decompose was really enlightening. Makes you wonder what their French Fries are REALLY made of.

Summary:
To tell the truth, I've never been a fan of McDonald's, and I was pretty gleeful to see it take such a beating in this film. The changes in Spurlock's body were particularly sobering, and made me think twice about going to a fast food restaurant again.

Grade: A (Highly recommended, especially for people who eat a lot of fast food)

Monday, 18 October 2004

Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Truss)

Hooray! After a looong two months of not finishing any books, I finally finished one yesterday!(No, it's not The Name of the Rose, so you can keep pestering for your book back, Erna). I managed to finish Lynne Truss' punctuation 'manual' Eats, Shoots & Leaves while vegetating in Genting yesterday, and can now finaly go on to other books! (Yes, yes, The Name of the Rose, I know)

Anyway, here is a mini-review on the book:

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Title: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Author: Lynne Truss

Where I Bought This Book: Er... Changi Airport. But you can find it in MPH or Kinokuniya

Main Characters: The comma, full stop, semicolon, and other assorted punctuation marks.

What It's All About: Er... punctuation?

What I like About It: A book that teaches you how to use the correct punctuation, and is funny at the same time. If all language books (or non-fiction, for that matter) were like this book, I'd be reading a lot more of that genre instead.

What I Dislike About It: Nothing much to dislike about it. though an index or table at the end would have made the book even MORE useful.

Name of Reviewer: eyeris

Friday, 15 October 2004

Book Review: The Portable Door (Holt)

Another up-side of having too much time on your hands - having more time to write book reviews. Here's one that was published in today's StarTwo on Tom Holt's The Portable Door:



Title: The Portable Door
Author: Tom Holt
Category: Fantasy (sort of)

What it's all about: A British guy named Paul Carpenter takes a job at a strange firm and falls in love with a weird girl with the attractiveness of a hole-punch.

One sentence summary: Harry Potter in an Office Cubicle

Full review here: Brit humour

Too much time

Life can be trying when you have no work to do. Or maybe not.

I'm down to only two stories on my joblist, having had four stories canned due to unfortunate circumstances (ok, so it wasn't THAT unfortunate after all), and I didn't have any work to do on account of my interviews for those other two stories being scheduled for later next week.

Anyway, while it's swell to have no work to do, it's also deadly boring. I spent half my time reading, a quarter of my time playing that darn Mini-Jump game, and another quarter of my time pestering a colleague who told me to "shaddap and leave me alone".

Ah, the perils of a journalist with too much time on his hands.

That said, there IS an up-side to having too much time on your hands. I actually managed to read quite a bit, and am now past the three quarter mark of The Name of the Rose, and the last chapters of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. That alone is a pretty good accomplishment, if you ask me.

Ok. Enough idling. I need all my concentration now if I'm EVER going to break into the Top Twenty of the Mini-Jump game...

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Boowit! Boooooowit! Boowit!

The title doesn't make any sense, I know. I was short on ideas, so I just typed that out on my notepad, and then the idea of writing a post on my favorite nonsensical phrases in books and movies came to me. Here in all the true spirit of nonsense, here is the first few of my favorite gibberish (more to come when I can remember them!):

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1) Ba Wit Gra Na Wit Ni Ni Bawng!

From: Transformers: The Movie
What it Means: It's the universal greeting that everyone all across the universe use to extend their friendship! Kup uses it to appease the Sharkticons, and Hot Rod in turn uses it to make friends with Wreck-Gar and his Junkions. My friends and I used to to greet each other with it for weeks.

2.1) Nya ing-siong, mata gaji... shemarengi SHENG!
2.2) Lampungi seeeeeng... shemardi LOONG!

From: Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk
What it means: Instead of the standard "Open/Close Sesame!" password, P. Ramlee's robber chief used this sing-song password instead. The first time I saw this movie, I couldn't stop laughing at the password, and the way P. Ramlee would sort of bend his knees a little at last word of the password. DEFINITELY one of Malaysia's best comedies ever made.
(Note: I'm only repeating what I hear from the movie. Anyone have the proper words for the passwords?)

3) Row-sham-bow

From: South Park (Episode: Mecha Streisand)
What it means: Actually spelled 'Rochambeau' (according to the Urban Dictionary), I'm still really hazy on whether this is an actual WORD or just plain nonsense. A rochambeau contest is where two people take turns kicking each other in the balls, and the first one to give up loses. I first heard it on South Park, where Cartman rochambeaus Pip for the sacred Triangle of Zintar; and in the end, Robert Smith of The Cure rochambeaus Cartman in return.

4) De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da

From: The title of a song by The Police
What it means: Who knows? It's catchy though

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That's it for today. I'll post more as I recall them. I was tempted to put some elvish phrases from LOTR in the list too, but realise that many people actually consider Elvish to be a REAL language... plus there are too many Elvish phrases in the book to cover anyway, so I'll skip LOTR completely.

In the meantime, anyone have favorite nonsense to share?

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Hours of Mindless Fun!

OK, so this is another non-book related post, but I can't help it. This game took up more than an hour of my time today, and could have been more if it was not for the fact that my fingers were cramping up from pressing the 'H' and 'J' keys too much (I'm only using one hand to type this).

Anyway, this is the Mini Jump Game! Where all you have to do is score points by jumping your little virtual man into a Mini. Very addictive, but damn hard to get into the Top Twenty.

So jump on for hours of mindless (and finger-numbing) fun!

Oh, on the way, check out this site You Forgot Poland, which is a dedication to one of George W. Bush's most immortal lines yet!

Book Review: Good Omens (Pratchett & Gaiman)

Just as I stole the idea of a book blog from Daphne, I'm going to steal another idea from her. Hehe. This time, it's her 'mini-reviews' format, which she uses to post short, short reviews about books she's read. I think it's a really good idea, especially when you're reading books as slowly as I am right now and when you're short on ideas for posts. Hehe.

Anyway, I figured that since Daphne pretty much covers children's books more, I'd focus on fantasy novels instead, since I read them more. So, here goes the first review.

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Mini Review:



Title: Good Omens

Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Where You Bought This Book: Kinokuniya, about a year back, and only read it a few months back.

Synopsis:
According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter - the world's only totally reliable guide to the future - the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea... "

Main Characters:
1. Crowley- The slippery devil's minion who sticks his tongue out and hisses a lot. Played an apple-giving part in Eden-Gate.
2. Aziraphale - The goody-goody Angel from Heaven who is supposed to be Crowley's main rival but ends up having tea together more often than not.
3. The Antichrist - Supposed to have grown up in the diabolical surroundings of an American Embassy, but ends up in a god-forsaken rural British town called Tadsfield instead.
4. Newton Pulsifer - Witchfinder Extraordinaire-rily Hopeless
5) Anathema Device - Great granddaughter of Agnes Nutter, the only truly accurate prophet ever; who loses the book of prophecies.
6) The four riders of the Apocalypse - Note the word RIDERS instead of Horsemen. Let's just say these four are the REAL Hell's Angels.

What It's All About:
Devil's minion Crowley and heaven's angel Aziraphale, attempt to prevent the prophesised Armageddon. However, when the Antichrist is born, a mix up by an extraordinarily ditzy nurse ends up with him growing up in the rural environment of Tadsfield instead of the evil environment of the American Embassy.

What I like About It:
Hey, it's Pratchett, what's not to like? His brand of humor plus Neil Gaimon's warped ideas make for a great combination. Agnes Nutter and DEATH may seem as though they were lifted from a Discworld story, but it works. The book is hilarious, and the whole idea of an angel & demon working together to prevent the Apocalypse (so they can continue enjoying their sushi and beer for enternity) is a great excuse for these two warped minds to let loose.

What I Dislike About It:
There's nothing much to dislike about this book, except that Pratchett seems to rehash some of his jokes and characters from his Discworld books. Not much though. I also hated the fact that I FINISHED IT SO QUICKLY!

Other Books I've Read by the Same Author:
Although I have read almost every single book Terry Pratchett has dished out, sad to say I haven't read a single Gaiman. Any recommendations for a First Gaiman?

If you like this, try:
1. The Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett

Name of Reviewer: eyeris

Sunday, 10 October 2004

A Cleaning and TV-ing weekend

This weekend's been a real change from my usual weekend routine which usually involves a lot of sleeping and lepaking. This time, I actually woke up rather early (well, ok, so it was 11am, but it still counts as early for me), and actually set about cleaning the house.

Don't ask me why, I was just in the mood for cleaning. Maybe all that nagging from my mom ("This is YOUR house now, so YOU clean it up") worked, or maybe I was just feeling extra productive. Or maybe it was because the bathroom door had mushrooms growing out from the cracks.

Anyway, for three hours (accompanied by Green Day blasting on the stereo), I swept and mopped the floor (and nearly slipping and breaking my neck in the process), cleaned the kitchen, cleared out the refridgerator (which had a few pieces of rotting leftover pizzas), and scrubbed the toilets (also getting rid of the mushrooms). For good measure, I even arranged my bookshelves again, and threw out the piles of old magazines and documents that were making my room a fire hazard.

After all that work (phew!) it was relaxation time, and instead of going out for another lepak sessions, I decided to stay at home and spend the whole day watching TV. In fact, this was a continuation of what I did on Saturday night. On Saturday, I'd watched the Malaysian Idol results show (man, that Marion Caunter is cute) for three hours straight, then continued on to the mildly annoying Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, before hopping over to Channel [V] for that hilarious travel show - Travel Sick.

Today, I started off watching a two-hour rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's final episode, then went on to watch the two-hour pilot of The Apprentice, and then finished off with an episode of The Powerpuff Girls and some music videos of Channel [V].

All in all, quite a satisfying weekend, if you ask me. Eh? What? This blog is supposed to be about books you say? Oh...

Friday, 8 October 2004

Happy Green Day!



No, it's not Earth Day, Save the World Day or something like that. It's just that for the past week, I've been listening to Green Day's new album - American Idiot, and I CAN'T SEEM TO STOP.

I've been listening to it every day in the car (and I spend A LOT of time in the car), and even on my laptop when I come home at 11pm at night and start playing Championship Manager. I can memories the lyrics or half the album already, and this morning, I even woke up humming one of the songs. It's that addictive. I haven't listened to an album continuously this much since I played the LOTR soundtracks back to back while driving from KL to Penang.

Anyway, American Idiot is by far the best Green Day album since Dookie (remember Basketcase and When I Come Around?), and probably better than that one, because it contains their most mature songs yet. I'll leave the musical criticisms to more er... 'accomplished' music reviewers, right now I just wanna say why I find this album so enjoyable.

The songs are, well, a lot more mature than their previous songs, and sure beats the heck out of wannabe Green-Days like Hoobastank (BLAH) and Simple Plan (URGH). There's hardly a bad tune in here, unlike some of their past albums which had three or four good songs and six other forgettable ones. Here, all the tunes are catchy, the lyrics are smart, and each song has it's own high points to look forward to. Oh, and it helps that they are good songs for screaming your head off in the car as well. Sure makes traffic jams easier to bear.

The two nine-minute songs (Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming) are the best I've heard from them. Slower songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Are We the Waiting and Wake Me Up When September Ends got me singing along. Perhaps the title track itself is the weakest song here, but even then, it still grows on you and you can't help screaming along with it in the end.

All in all, this is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year, and makes my short but well-worn list of my favorite albums of all time.

(BTW, in case you're wondering why I've suddenly switched focus to writing about music, it's all ireneQ's fault. Let's just say it was a pretty 'musical' mood in the office yesterday... well, kind of. If you count dissing NKOTB as being 'musical'.)

Thursday, 7 October 2004

Link link... linky link links

For want of something better to write, here are some links to some interesting stuff about writers, writing and the odd movie or so.

Germans turn to Tolkien
Achtung! Germans have more taste that you think! They have just voted Tolkien's Lord of The Rings as their favorite book! Read the news story here.

Master of the Unexpected
Guardian's book site has this brief guide to Roald Dahl here.

Review of Finding Neverland
This movie stars Johnny Depp, and is about J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Empire's reviews have rarely been off-the-mark, so if they give this movie five stars, it should be darn good. Check out the review here.

The Ultimate Movie Rock Band!
And finally, a little bit of fun. Ever wondered what the ultimate movie rock band would look like? Is Animal from the Muppets a better drummer than all the Ewoks put together? Is Chef from South Park a better lead vocalist than the Singing Bush from Three Amigos? Do we REALLY want Fat Bastard playing the bagpipes in the band, or is Michelle from American Pie's flute er... 'playing' more appealing?

Check out the results of Empire's Ultimate Movie Rock Band poll here!

Riding the Storm Again

I mentioned before here that I'd interviewed a few cartoonists and comic artists, and the story came out yesterday in The Star.

The three artists I interviewed were Hong Kong's 'King of Comics' - Tony Wong; Pakistan's first and probably only female cartoonist - Nigar Nazar; and one of China's most famous and respected veteran cartoonists - Fang Cheng.

Interviewing Tony Wong gave me a nostalgic feeling that I indulged recently by buying an issue of a Hong Kong comic that I used to follow in the past - Storm Riders (created by Wong's competitors, Ma Weng-Seng), which I've talked about before here.

Anyway, although I haven't been following the comic for almost five years now, I had no problems getting back into the story, mainly because the same old characters are around (with a few new ones), and the gist of the story still involved around Cloud and Wind (and their kids). The artwork is still cool, and I have a feeling that I might get sucked back into reading the damn things again... sigh... there goes my money again...

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

Dragons & ents VS Kancils & tanks

Last week, I went to a Wordup gathering and got into a conversation about books, and fantasy in general. Someone asked this question: Why do I like fantasy so much?

The answer is simple. Fantasy allows you to expand your imagination to worlds that are not your own. It encourages you to use your imagination; to form your own ideas and opinions about a certain thing, character or place that does not exist.

Take the Lord of The Rings, for example. Tolkien had his own ideas and visions of how his world would look like. However, his readers would each form their own ideas of what the world, people and the monsters would look like. In fact, before the movies came out, there was no one definite 'look' for a hobbit. Some artists envisioned hobbits as short, fat and ugly, while others made them out to be as cute as bunnies. Certainly no one ever imagined Frodo to look like Elijah Wood!

That is why I get upset with people who tell me they watched the LOTR movies but never read the books. Because they are not using their own imagination to form their own ideas about Tolkien's world, merely taking for granted that what Peter Jackson has in the movie is what LOTR looks like.

But I digress. That LOTR gripe is for another day. Let's get back to why I prefer reading fantasy to other forms of fiction.

Like I said, fantasy allows you to use your imagination. Usual fiction novels set in the real world use settings and locations and things that are familiar to us, so the imagination is never utilised to visualise what a place looks like. A character jumps on a tank. We ALL know what a tank looks like, so we don't NEED to imagine how it looks like. But in a fantasy novel, when a character jumps on an Oliphaunt or a Hippogriff, the reader would have to imagine what it looks like based on how the writer describes the item/object/creature.

Also, the stories in fantasy novels, while rather far-fetched and maybe a little predictable in some cases, are still a lot more original than anything Sheldon or Grisham has come up with. Granted, there may be some general fiction books that ARE pretty original themselves, but I still prefer a story that doesn't resemble the real world too much.

You could say that I prefer fantasy books because it gives me another world to disappear into, and escape the real one we live in. And to tell the truth, I'd take dragons and ents over Kancil-clogged roads and silly US presidents anytime.

Monday, 4 October 2004

When will I ever learn?

Just a few days ago, I had weird dreams of talking chihuahuas and Tarantino Barneys after reading a collection of Bizarro comics. Obviously, I haven't learnt my lesson, because last night I did it again.

This time, I went and bought a Far Side collection, read it before going to sleep, and had dreams of talking cows, the single-cell version of the Brady Bunch (The Bacteria Bunch), and baby fishes 'drying' their beds.

Thank goodness I didn't read Peter Rabbit before that, or he'd be roadkill in my dream.

I got the collection of Far Side comics at the Payless in Amcorp for only RM6, and hunted for more, but the rest were all the bigger, hardcover versions that went for RM22 (which is still cheap, considering the new ones in MPH can cost more than RM50).

If anyone comes across more Far Side or Bizarro compilations in any Payless, do let me know. :-)

Friday, 1 October 2004

The Sale after the Jam

Forget the traffic jams. My day has perked up again, mainly due to this charity bazaar I went to nearby my office. Bought four books there for a grand total of RM8.00!

Here's what I got:

1) Catch 22, by Joseph Heller (For ONE RINGGIT! My jaw dropped when I saw this book at this price. And to think they were selling Sidney Sheldon tripe for RM5.00 and above... sheesh)

2) 2 Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books- The Talking Skull and The Screaming Clock (I loved these books, and used to have them, but they got lost when we moved house, so I don't mind buying them again. Especially when they only cost ONE RINGGIT EACH.)

3) Power of Three, by Diana Wynne Jones (At RM5.00, this is the most 'expensive' book in this haul, but considering I saw the exact same book going for RM12.90 in a Payless, I'd say this was a pretty good buy. :-) )

Jam, jam, jam, jam, peanut butter, jam...

There seemed to be a lot of accidents and cars breaking down this morning when I was coming to work. I got stuck in three different traffic jams - one, a three car pile-up on the Ampang Elevated Highway (which is usually SOOO clear); two, the usual bottleneck of Jalan Tun Razak where a LORRY had broken down on the damn intersection of all places; and three, a Proton broke down, perfectly placed RIGHT on the traffic lights two stops before my office.

To say I was mad when I finally arrived is an understatement.

However, the good thing about all these jams (and the fact that I was driving an auto-car for a change), was that I actually managed to read another two chapters of The Name Of the Rose, which my friend has been pestering me to finish for er... two years now. Hehe.

Anyway, I just discovered new places to catch up on my reading to add to my list I did a couple of months back here. They are:

1) While waiting for the damn lift at my office to come all the way down from Level 11 to Level B3 where I parked my car.
2) During the opening speeches of offical functions where the VIP is some politician who doesn't know what the speech-writer wrote into his speech until he actually starts reading it.
3) While watching boring goal-less football matches such as the 0-0 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. Even The Tale of Peter Rabbit was more exciting than THAT game.