Monday, 31 January 2005

Tea-Time Checkmates

My brains are scrambled now.

The Visitor and I just came back from tea where we played two mind boggling games of chess.

Yes, C-H-E-S-S.

Been ages since I played the game, but for the past week, we've been playing it during tea-time, ever since The Visitor bought a pseudo-glass chess set from a salesman for RM15. (The box says: Limited Edition Glass Chess Set, but it's actually made of plastic)

I used to play chess a lot. Actually, make that CHINESE chess. I preferred Chinese Chess to 'Western' chess because it's a lot less complicated, plus the board is a lot less cluttered.

With al due respect to both games, they DO tend to be quite similar. The Horses/Knights move the same way (although in Chinese chess, you can 'block' the horse), the Rooks/Tanks move the same way, and the pawns are pathetic one-steppers in both games.

However, there ARE a lot of differences too.

With chess, when there are still a lot of pieces on the board, things tend to get very messy. You miss things, like that Knight poised to 'eat' your Queen, or that bloody Rook being exposed because you moved a pawn. With Chinese chess, the spaces between the pieces are a lot wider, so it's easier to see what is gonna be eaten and what not.

Also, that 'Cannon' in Chinese chess that eats other pieces by jumping over another piece is mighty useful too.

In Chinese chess, the General/King is confined to his little palace which is little box in the bottom. He has two Elephants/Ministers to protect him, outside the box. The King has no Queen, but he has two bodyguards that are also confined to the room.

Makes you wonder what they do at night.

I used to play Chinese chess in school with my friends (sometimes even playing for money), and at kopitiams with Ah-Peks while drinking kopi-O (very hard to beat, those Ah-Peks).

I also used to play (and be trounced) by my grandfather, which is and will be one of my fondest memories of him.

Of chess, I used to play with this really 'garang' teacher of mine who was the advisor of the chess club. I would gang up with three other friends of mine and STILL get thrashed within 15 moves.

Sadly, I rarely touched a chess set (Chinese or otherwise) after I left for university. I DID play those PC games where the chess pieces were animated men, and would scratch their butts when they were left idle.

Anyway, I'm mighty relieved now, because I just finished most of my work (finally), and can now relax (and blog, of course). I can also play chess now. Yay! Now, I wonder who in the office can play Chinese chess ...

Oh, and BTW, and I beat The Visitor in both games. HAH!

Sunday, 30 January 2005

An Anatomy of Eyeris' Desk Bookpile

My desk is one of the messiest in the office, and naturally, I have lots of books on it, among other things, like my toys, food, my files, stacks of rough paper, posters, press tags, robots, and lots of other weird stuff.

But anyway, here's a look at what books are on my desk (and what's sitting on them books as well):

Friday, 28 January 2005

My Fortune in Cookies

We got lots of Chinese New Year hampers in the office today. Lots of snacks, lots of food, lots of cookies. And they wonder why journalists gain weight so easily.

Anyway, in one of them hampers was a bag of 'fortune cookies'.

These 'cookies' are shaped like a Chinese gold nugget, and they all had a slip of paper inside that had a nice little 'fortune, each ending with a smiley face. Weird.

Anyway, here are some of those fortunes:

  • You have an important new business development shaping up (Cool. I never knew I hada business)
  • You are careful and systematic in your business arrangements (Hmmm... maybe I should start that business after all)
  • Good news will come to you from far away (Er... how far is far away?)
  • Your kindness is surely to be repaid (Hmmm... I gave one fortune cookie to a colleague. Does that count as 'kindness'? When will I get repaid?)
  • Your lucky number is ..... (The Visitor got TWO of these. Dammit. Oh well, I got the NEXT one...)
  • The star of riches is shining upon you (YAY! I'm gonna get rich! I'm gonna get rich! And we all thought the KL sky was too hazy to see stars)
  • A friend asks only for your time, not your money. (Huh?)

And here's my favorite of all:

  • If you think you can, you can

Some fortune, eh?

What are you waiting for? They're called Famous Fortune Cookies, go get some of them!

Now, I'm going to gasak more of them cookies.


Filler Dealer, Book Reviewer

It's been a real hectic week, and I can't remember the last time I was this glad it was Friday. Oh wait, that was last week.

Anyway, while I think of other things to blog about and waste some time surfing the Net, here are two proper book reviews I've had in The Star recently:

Yes, I know I've reviewed them here before, but those were mini reviews. These here, are my usual PROPER reviews of the books.

You could say that my reviews in my blog are just 'previews' of my proper reviews. Haha

Oh well, back to work. For now.

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

It's Oscar time!

Oscar is back (no, not that green grouchy guy who lives in a dustbin and has a pet worm), and another movie has 11-nominations this year - The Aviator.

Whether it will win all of them like LOTR: ROTK did last year remains to be seen lar.

The Aviator will be fighting it out for the Best Picture title with Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Finding Neverland and Sideways.

Frankly, I've not seen a single one of them, which is rare, because for the past 6 years I've watched at least THREE of the Best Picture nominees.

But hey, only The Aviator has been released here, and I missed THAT one because I forgot where the press screening was going to be and I'm too cheapskate to buy a ticket to watch it. :-)

Looks like it's gonna be a close one this year, folks.

Frankly, I'm a bit indifferent about this year's Oscars. The only ones I'm rooting for will be:
  • Martin Scorsese for Best Director
  • The Incredibles for Best Animated Feature Film
  • Charlie Kaufman for the Best Original Screenplay (for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

The rest, I really don't care so much about.

Go check out the Oscar Nominees List HERE.

But that's the Oscars. For a better time, the Razzies are the way to go!

The Big Loser at the Razzies is Catwoman this year, and deservedly so. Alexander is in there as well, and White Chicks.

Am surprised Thunderbirds didn't make it though. Even the trailer for that film was horrendous.

Even George W. Bush is nominated as himself in Fahrenheit 9/11, and is also in the Worst Screen Couple paired with either Condoleeza Rice and/or His Pet Goat. Haha.

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Potential Harry Potter Spin-offs

Daphne and I were talking today about authors growing old while trying to milk as much out of their franchises as possible.

Then she said: "Imagine what J.K. Rowling might do after she finishes Harry Potter. Maybe she might do spinoffs of the books."

So, in true EoE tradition where a good crazy idea is never wasted, I present to you a list of potential spin-offs that Rowling might want to consider:


The Da Weasley Code
Genre: Conspiracy thriller
The premise: After graduating from Hogwarts, Ron Weasley becomes obsessed with a conspiracy theory that Voldemort was actually married to Professor McGonagall, and was in fact a good guy. He then discovers that the marriage was covered up by a secret society led by Professor Dumbledore dedicated to preserving the legend of Harry Potter's incredible feats.


Sex in Diagon Alley
Genre: Chic Lit
The premise: Ten years after graduating from Hogwarts, Hermione is working as a columnist in the Daily Prophet who writes about the virtues of levitational sex.
She chances upon Cho Chang, Fleur Delacour, and Ginny Weasley (all of whom have grown up and wear nice cleavage-revealing dresses in the latest fashions) in Diagon Alley, and they all become great friends who meet up for lunch every day and talk endlessly about men and their erhem... wands, shoes, sex, shopping, men, shoes, men, shoes and men.


Who Moved My Chocolate Frogs?
Genre: Self-help book
The Premise: Written by former Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, the book teaches readers NOT to accept change, and to always stand by your decisions even if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back to destroy the world, and (horrors!) your chocolate frogs are jumping away.


The Name of the Ghost
Genre: Crime mystery cum religious commentary
The Premise: Harry Potter discovers that Nearly-Headless Nick was actually a former Benedictine monk who was murdered; and travels with his faithful sidekick Ron to an abbey somewhere in Europe to solve Nick's murder and to find out his true name.
Along the way, they find a door filled with carvings of Chinese Fireball Dragons, and a massive library filled to the brim with obscure pre-Harry Potter children's books.


Harry, Robot
Genre: Science Fiction
The Premise: The story follows a decendent of Harry Potter who is living in the future where magic is stored in jars, and robots are controlled by the 300 Laws of Magical Robots.
He has to travel to a distant planet with a robot Ron Weasley-lookalike, where he must ride giant earthworms to search for a missing spice for his Tom Yam soup.


Harry Potter Jr. and The Babysitter's Rock
Genre: Children's Pop-up Picture Book
The premise: Baby Harry Potter Jr. is sent to Hogwarts Kindergarden by his father to learn magic. There, he makes friends with a geeky red-haired kid who keeps drooling green slime, and a brilliant but frumpy little girl who likes spelling out bombastic words with the playing blocks.
They discover a plot to steal a rock that would give immense power to anyone who hits his head repeatedly with the rock.

Revisiting Loving Writing

Another warning: This is another Me, Me, Me post. And this is probably about as close to a personal post that you'd get on this blog. :-P

The Visitor and I have had lots of 'disagreements' before.

Most of the time, he scoffs at my love for the LOTR movies, and I kutuk his 'high-brow' attitude concerning movies. Other times, he tembak my reluctance to watch horror films, and I just insult his hairstyle.

We've not killed each other yet (even though we usually sit a mere two or three PCs apart). The keyword here is YET. Hehe.

Anyway, The Visitor (a.k.a. movie & Writing Snob) brought up an interesting point to my last post that got ME all worked up. Again.

"If anyone says they LOVE writing, they are lying. definitely lying. Why? becos the process of writing is NOT pleasurable at all. It is suffering, it is painful, it is lonely....... Any writer will tell you, the hours spent slogging are like hours spent in hell."

Is it REALLY a lie if someone says they love writing? Why shouldn't the writing itself be pleasurable as well?

Dey, it may not be fun to you, but it's fun to me lar. I'm the kind of person who has fun processing press releases for frozen chicken-and-jellyfish-flavoured instant pizza.

Maybe it's because of four years stuck in a Computer Science course of which I had no interest in whatsoever; but I relish the oppurtunity I get at my job. I can get creative with things. I can tembak movies I hate and recommend books that I love. I can think up weird angles for a routine profile on a pretty model.

It's fun to me.

In fact, most of the time, it doesn't even feel like a job to me.

Most journalists think the interviewing and reporting bit is the easy part, and dread coming back to do the story. Me, I HATE making phone calls. I HATE arranging interviews. The interview itself I can handle (especially if it's a cute actress), but probably the only thing I REALLY hate about the writing bit is transcribing that hour-long tape of someone rambling on about micro-organisms in breast milk.

That's about it.

However, when it comes to WRITING a story, I have no problems. I like just whacking out weird phrases just to see if it fits in the story. I think of angles while driving to work.

Of course, I've only been 'officially' a journalist for only two years, still considered an infant when compared to 'veterans' like Daphne (sorry for dragging you in this, Daphne. :P ) and 'jaded old journalists' like The Visitor (sorry dude, couldn't resist. :-P )

A jaded old journalist would probably be fed up of all the time spent in front of the PC banging out yet another review of the 568th time Andy Lau visits KL. A novelist would say that it IS tedious, all that rewriting and editing. Writing is no fun sometimes. True. But it IS fun sometimes too.

You know what IS the hardest part for me? Getting started.

There are times when I have everything down on the screen but I just don't want to work. But once I do, then it's a lot easier.

"That makes it worthwhile is when you see the outcome, the result of that process. that's the pleasurable part."

Ok, THIS part I agree. It IS the outcome that makes it all worthwhile, ESPECIALLY if you have slogged hard on that story.

But I also like the writing bit wor. So how?

That said, me and The Visitor, we WRITE all the time because it's our JOB. For a blogger, a part-time writer, a poet or even a songwriter, writing CAN be pleasurable. And even for a journalist who spends half his waking hours in front of the PC trying to figure out how to make another generic boy band from Taiwan look different, it can be pleasurable.

Most of the time, that is.

Ok, enough on this. About that hairstyle, Visitor....

Monday, 24 January 2005

Why I like being a writer

Warning: Potentially self-indulgent and 'perasan' post ahead.

I was going through my old documents in my PC yesterday, and came across an essay I once wrote while applying for a job, which was supposed to explain why I wanted to apply for a writing job.

Back then, I wasn't sure why I wanted to write for a living. I mean, I studied Computer Science in University, for god's sake. But somehow, I liked writing stories and articles more than I liked writing software programs.

Fast forward to today, I'm writing for a living as a journalist/feature writer, and I'm happier than a Hobbit with Longbottom Leaf.

Sure, things could always be better in certain aspects, but as of now, I'm happy with what I'm doing, even if I'm interviewing cringing pop tarts like S.H.E., or processing poorly-worded press releases about multi-flavored instant noodles.

Of course, most of the time I consider myself a writer first, and a reporter second. Depends on what you like I guess. Some journalists prefer the reporting bit to the writing part.

Anyway, rereading that little self-promotion piece got me thinking as to exactly WHY I like what I'm doing. And here's why (in no particular order):


- I can convey my emotions and feelings better through writing rather than when I talk.

- I like playing with words to make them more fun to read. (even better if people actually laugh at the stuff I write. Unless it's funny unintentionally.)

- I like learning about stuff and writing to tell people about it (in other words, I damn kepoh wan...)

- I like the challenge of describing something to others through the use of words (which I think is lot more fun than just taking a photo)

- I love the satisfaction one gets when someone tells me that they have read and liked my stuff. (though I wish that happened more often)

And last but not least....

-I just love to write.


Saturday, 22 January 2005

The Dead Interviewees' Society

Got kinda sidetracked yesterday, listing out movies instead of what I originally had in mind for the next post. Was a little carried away by that 're-discovery' of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (the teaser trailer is out, BTW, go get it!)

Oh, BTW, one of my favorite directors - Peter Jackson (who else??) - is going to be directing the adapatation of one of my favorite NON-fantasy books - Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. Apparently he bought the rights with his own money, and is a fan of the boo. Bodes well, I think.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked again. But seeing as how The Lovely Bones is about coping with death as well, I think that sets me up nicely for this next post.

So here we go, a 'sequel' to the Dreaming of a Dream Interview post two days back: My list of people I would like to interview but can't, mostly because they are DEAD.

So, here is my list, which is also known as The Dead Interviewees' Society.

1) J.R.R. Tolkien
No surprises here. I think most fantasy fans would love to have met 'the master', just like musicians would have loved to meet Elvis, Lennon or Cobain.
One Question I would like to ask him: How does Tom Bombadil fit into the picture, eh?

2) Isaac Asimov
In my humble opinion, Asimov is the equivalent of Tolkien in the Science Fiction world. Judging from his books, he seemed like such a paradox, both studious and creative at the same time.
One Question I would like to ask him: Who would win a fight between R. Daneel Olivaw, Marvin the Paranoid Android and R2-D2?

3) Douglas Adams
To me, the Terry Pratchett of the Science Fiction world. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the subsequent five books in the 'Trilogy' were the funniest SF books I'd ever read. All together now - DON'T PANIC!
One Question I would like to ask him: While writing your books, in the name of 'research', did you ever had the need to go out and lie down in front of bulldozers and squelch?

4) Wong Ka Kui
The frontman of Hong Kong rock band Beyond. While I've met and interviewed the other three members of the band that I grew up listening to, I do wish that I'd being able to talk to the man who was the main driving force behind their rise to fame.
One question I would like to ask him: How do you feel about being icons and the music of choice for Ah Bengs all over the world?

5) Bill Shankly
This is the Liverpool FC fan in me speaking. Shankly is the greatest manager in the club's history, and I would have loved it, just loved it to meet him.
One question I would like to ask him: Would YOU have bought El-Hadji "Spit Demon" Diouf?

6) Agatha Christie
You gotta have a realy sharp mind to have come up with all those weird murder theories. And IMHO, Hercule Poirot was a masterclass.
One Question I would like to ask her: If Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple had teamed up, who would have gone mad with frustration first?


Other personalities who are currently resting-in-peace whom I would love to have interviewed are:
  • Frank Herbert (Author of the Dune books)
  • Charles Shulz (creator of Peanuts)
  • Kurt Cobain (Nirvana frontman. Duh)
  • Jesse Owens (African-American athlete who won Olympic gold medals under Hitler's nose)
  • Marlon Brando (The Godfather. Nuff' said)
  • Stanley Kubrick (Filmmaker)

PS: Notice that there are no political figures, world leaders, nor historical figures in the list. That's because I wanted to focus mostly on pop culture icons. Besides, if I DID include those historical people in the list, the list could go on forever...


Friday, 21 January 2005

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2005

It's a public holiday today, but I'm stuck at work after being dragged back to go cover an S.H.E. press conference. I swear if I ever see those three 'bubbly' girls again, I'll throttle them.

Anyway, I've just been wondering what movies I'd like to see this year, and decided to pop out a list of MY personal most anticipated movies of 2005:

Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride
It's by Tim Burton, and is a stop-motion animated film like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Add Johnny Depp's voice as the main character, and surely you have a great hit, or at least a cult hit.

Cars
It's by Pixar, and is a CG-animated film like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Add Paul Newman's voice as one of the characters, and and surely you have a great hit, or at least a kiddie hit. (Though I doubt it'll be better than previous Pixar movies)

King Kong
It's by Peter Jackson, and has a CGI-animated gorilla. I can't think of anything good to say about that. But King Kong is a classic, and the PJ Factor should make this an interesting watch.

Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith
Hey, it's Star Wars.

Sin City
Based on the Frank Miller comic book, the cast lists reads: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Nick Stahl, Benecio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Kate Bosworth.
Another case of too many big names killing the movie? Well, if the trailer is anything to go by, then this would one kickass movie.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
I dread this movie as much as I dreaded the LOTR movies, because I'm afraid they mght screw it up. But I'll still go watch it, because I LOOOOVE the book.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Ditto the above

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton + Johnny Depp + Roald Dahl. Nuff' said.

Fantastic Four
I don't think the movie itself is gonna be very good, but I'd watch it just for Jessica Alba. She looks GOOOOOD in that blue suit. :-)

Batman Begins
The trailers look promising, and it's about time Ol' Bats redeemed himself after that godawful Batman and Robin.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith



Look at the posters! How can you resist a pairing like this?

Thursday, 20 January 2005

Dreaming of a Dream Interview

I was talking to a colleague last night, and this question popped up: If you could interview ANYONE in the world, who would you want to interview most?

My personal conditions for this question are:
  • The person must be still ALIVE (that took Tolkien out of my list, and Cobain out of his)
  • The person must be famous (So that cute chick from the office across the street is ineligible)
  • The person must be someone we REALLY, REALLY want to talk to, not just some cute actress we would like to sleep with. (this condition took a LOT of names of my list)

Unsurprisingly, considering our interests, my colleague's names were mostly music icons, while mine were mostly authors. But what we DID agree on was that musicians and writers are so much more interesting to interview than film stars.

Film stars tend to give very PR answers that only center around the movie they are making. Very boring. Musicians and authors tend to be much more fun to interview because they can be quite creative with their answers (Of course, not ALL of them are like that, but at least the ones I'VE interviewed before are).

Anyway, we settled for only one name each last night. Mine was (unsurprisingly) - Terry Pratchett.

This is mainly because I love his books so much, and I've read other peoples' interviews with him, and I have a whole lot of other questions that I want to bombard him with. I also would LOVE to find out what makes this man's mind tick, and how he comes up with all that good stuff in his books.

When I got home, I expanded my list to include the following people (still following the above criteria, of course):
  • Noel Gallagher - Not because I have a fetish for being beaten up, but I'm guessing that if I could get him to really talk, it would be a damn fine interview. Wouldn't want to be in the same room as Liam though. He'd make mince meat out of me.
  • Robin Hobb - Damn good writer, and judging from her website content, not an easy person to interview too, I'll bet. And yes Glenda, I'm trying VERY HARD to get that invite to Continuum 2005 so I CAN meet Hobb.
  • Peter Jackson - Lord of The Rings. Nuff' said. This is one choice that appeals little geek-Eyeris in me.
  • Wong Kar Wai - Enigmatic filmmaker. While I am not a film connoisseur (read: movie snob. Haha) like The Visitor, I think Wong's movies are very thought provoking, and I would really like to find out what this man is like, and how he thinks.

The last name is one person whom I might have a slightly higher chance of getting an interview with.

As for the rest... well, one can always dream, right?


Wednesday, 19 January 2005

The Strangely Heavy Mr. Norrel

I'm having problems reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (JS&MN), not because of the contents and story of the book, but because the darn book is so bloody THICK and HEAVY.

One of the reasons why I can usually finish books relatively quickly is not because I read very fast, or I have a lot of time to just sit down and read; but because I like to bring my books around in my backpack, and just whip it out whenever I am waiting for something, or whenever I have time to kill.

Well, JS&MN is not a book that one can just 'whip' out of a bag.

'HEAVE' would be more like it.

The book has more than 800 pages, is about the size of a dictionary (the real, thick dictionaries, not those pathetic pocket-sized ones), and is bloody H-E-A-V-Y.

I can't bring it around without breaking my back (and bag too, for that matter), and when I do, it takes up so much space that I have hardly any more space in the bag for the rest of my stuff.

I can't read it in the car, because when I rest it on the steering wheel, the horn goes off.

I can't bring it to the toilet to read even, because people look at me funny.

Heck, people look at me funny no matter where or when I take it out to read. Some even avoided me on the LRT while I was HEAVING it out of my backpack. (They probably thought I was loony for bringing that piece of brick around).

So far, I'm up to 300 pages of the book, and I have to say that it is darn good book. No wonder so many Best-Book-of-2004 lists also included this book, no mean feat for a book that is stuck in the 'fantasy' genre (a genre that is usually scoffed at by 'real' readers of literature ).

But for now, I'm not reading it as much as I would like to. I've resorted to forcing myself to read it for at least one hour every night before bed (and after my Cartoon Network shows), just so I can finish it and get the review out (which Daphne has been chasing me for for ages).

Oh well. At least by the time I am through with the book, I'd probably have a lot more muscles in my arms from lifting the book too often (Which would probably look rather weird, considering the rest of me is as skinny as a lamp post).

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

The Language of Books

Does language actually matter when it comes to a good book? Does it matter if a story is translated into hundreds of different languages? After all, a good story is a good story, no matter what language it is written in, right?

Well... maybe. But then again, maybe not.

The Wordup community has a little thread going about the Don Quixote (Used to mispronouce this all the time. Is it Kuik-Sot? Ki-Xo-Te? Kui-So-Te? Ku-Ix-O-Teh?) book being 'unreadable.

You see, Spain is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the book, which apparently is the most published and translated second only to the Bible. Anyway, someone mentioned that it's Spanish version is unreadable, but the English version is fine.

Eh? ¿Que?

How can a translation be easier to read than the original? Does that mean that a lot has been 'lost in translation'?

I think that when a book is translated, the main thing that would be lost in translation would be the particular nuances and quirks a certain language may have.
A Terry Pratchett book, with all its puns, slang and language-related jokes, would not seem as funny as it REALLY is if it's translated to Chinese or Malay. Can you imagine a title like Going Postal translated into Pergi Pejabat Pos, or Death being referred to as 'Kematian'? GAAAA!
I'd like to see a Malay translation of Nanny Ogg's Hedgehog song though. Would be hilarious.

The Lord of the Rings has been translated to lots of languages worldwide, but I can't help thinking that some of the poems and lines may not sound as magical or unique if translated into Chinese or say, Arabic.

I for one, object to the Chinese translation of the title - 'Mo Jie', which means Demon Ring. Eh?

And you wanna know what some LOTR-speak would sound like in Malay, check out my early posts here:
I've read Hong Kong comics in their original Chinese form, AND I've tried reading the Malay translations too. Compared to the elegence and the flowing style of the Chinese names and phrases, the Malay translations just seemed dreadful to me.

Imagine, a name like "Bu Jing Yun" (loose translation: Cloud Walker) which sounds so elegant and so symbolic in Chinese, is translated into 'Penjejak Awan', which may be a direct translation, but just sounds awful as a person's name. And don't get me started on the various 'names' of the kungfu moves in the comics, which are terrible direct translations on otherwise very creative and very elegant 'names' (some of which are even REAL Chinese proverbs).

There ARE some translations that fare quite well though. Although Chinese readers still moaned the quality of its translation, Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain (originally written in Chinese) still won the Nobel Prize for literature.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for translating books into different languages. That way, books from every corner of the world can be read by everyone. Non-Chinese readers can enjoy Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Polish readers can read Harry Potter in thier own language, and Americans can marvel at the brilliance of Malaysian literature. Or maybe not.

However, there ARE times when I wish I could read the books in their original languages. Spanish is one language I've always wanted to learn.

I've taken Spanish lessons before in university, all the way until the fourth level. But even then, that was not enough. One needs to PRACTISE to master a language. And I doubt many roti canai sellers around the UPM area knew how to speak Spanish. So my Spanish lessons all went down the drain, and I'll have to start from scratch again. Sigh...

But watching Mexican movie Y' Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too) the other day kinda rekindled my interest in the language again (let's not mention all the sex in the movie, shall we?).

Now I'm seriously thinking of taking up Spanish lessons again. Then maybe I can read Don Quixote in its original form.

AFTER I've read the English translation, of course.

Monday, 17 January 2005

Cartoon Cartoons!

I think I'm addicted.

Every night for the past week, I've been going home late at night, and spend a few hours just sitting there, giggling and chuckling to myself as the pretty colors flash by before my eyes.

I think I'm addicted.... to Cartoon Network.

Every week night for the past week, I've gone home before 11:30pm, turned on the TV, and straight away switched the Astro channel to Number 62.

I'm a real sucker for cartoons, to tell the truth. Most of my childhood was spent watching cartoons (which I'd listed in this post HERE). Most of my favorite movies are cartoons (Transformers: The Movie tops the list). I love more 'mature' (not in the porn kinda way lar) cartoons like South Park and The Simpsons.

Put it simply, I LOVE cartoons. (Though somehow I never really got into Japanese Anime, for some weird reason. I think because I prefered Manga to Anime). And I think Cartoon Network is the best thing that's happened for cartoons since Captain Caveman (ok, bad example).

Anyway, back to my 'addiction'.

First up, at 11:30pm every weekday, it's the Powerpuff Girls.

Nothing sums up the show better than the closing credits song:

Blossom, commander and the leader,
Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter,
Buttercup, she is the toughest fighter,
Powerpuffs save the day!
Fighting crime, trying to save the world,
Here they come just in time, the Powerpuff Girls!


I know, I know, plenty of people hate them, and many also think that they're the Alvin and the Chipmunks of this generation, but I love them. I mean, LOOK at them, they're so CUUUTE!

(Pix taken from http://www.nephco.com/powerpuffgirls/index.html)

Ok, before I start squealing like Bubbles (that's the cute blonde one, for the PPG-ignorant ones out there. Buttercup is the green 'tough' one, and Blossom is the goody-goody red one) let's move on to the next, and more 'manly' cartoon (if there really is such a thing) on the list.

Next up, at midnight, it's Samurai Jack.



This is another cartoon that has a lot of divided interest. Some people can't stand it (The Visitor, take a bow), some hate it with a passion, while some love it to bits.

Personally, I like the show. It's cool! Samurais and katanas are always cool! Jack is a samurai who is banished to the future and has to find his way back to the past.

The stories for Samurai Jack are pretty creative, plus I like the way it is animated, the atmosphere, and the character's expressions. The fights are way cool too. :-)

The animators of Samurai Jack went on to make the Star Wars: Clone Wars mini-cartoon series, and that was damn cool too. WAAAY better than both the Prequels combined. :-)

After Samurai Jack, it's then over to the Justice League at 12:30am.

(Pix taken from http://www.jlanimated.com)

Based on the DC comics, Justice League is another damn cool cartoon. After all, when you cram Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and the Martian Manhunter into one cartoon, you get one kickass cartoon. Helps that the animation is quite cool too, and that the stories are also not your average good guys vs bad guys stories. In fact, I think it's meant for older viewers rather than kids.

Speaking of DC, check out also the Teen Titans cartoon.



I like this cartoon. It's somewhat cute, but cool too. It's like Justice League for the pre-teen, if you ask me. It has Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Raven, and is animated in a pretty Japanese kind of way, complete with huge sweat drops and weird manga-like expressions.

Other cartoons I've been enjoying (mostly on Sundays, when I have nothing to do) are The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (which has two kids using the Grim Reaper for weird adventure), Megas XLR (about a fat guy and his giant robot), Dexter's Laboratory (DEE DEE! NOOOOOO!) and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (mostly for nostalgic reasons).

Now, I don't like ALL the cartoons on Cartoon Network. I can't stand Ed, Edd and Eddy for some reason, and I think Cow and Chicken are just plain annoying. Plus I could never understand the appeal of Scooby-Doo.

Anyway, my current favorite is Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

(Pix taken from http://fridays.toonzone.net/fosters/index.html)

It's about this home, you see, which is for abandoned imaginary friends. A brilliant idea that basically allows the creators to do almost whatever they want with the story.

I love the show. I love the characters, especially Madame Foster, the home's owner; and Eduardo, a cowardly bull-like friend who cries a lot:



I love this show. If they had a DVD of this show, I'd get it. I love the idea of a home for imaginary friends, and I can't get the show's theme song out of my head.

Is there a cure for cartoon-addiction? If there was, I'll gladly throw it away. I prefer cartoons to the usual TV shows because they are a lot more creative than most 'REAL' shows are, and certainly a lot more fun than some of those silly reality shows out there.

Or maybe I'm just a really big kid.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go play with my action figures.

First broken resolution of the year!

Ok, so I broke one of my resolutions yesterday. (Er... better make that TWO. I still haven't returned Name of the Rose to Erna yet. Oopsie)

I was in Payless Books Ampang Point yesterday, and I bought a book without first finishing one.

But I have a good excuse for breaking it.

First, the book was The Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White) that alleged 'Bible' of writing that almost every writer swears by (at least those who actually READ these things).

Second, it was going for a mere RM5! Now, who in their right mind would be able to resist THAT price for THAT book?

There you have it, I've justified my 'broken' resolution.

Now to think up an excuse for those four other Far Side books that I bought... (well, they WERE only RM6 each...)

Friday, 14 January 2005

Nac Mac Feegle!

Never mind the last post where I said I didn't have time to post anyting else. Came across this site HERE and checked it out. Paul Kidby is the artist who illustrated Terry Pratchett's last few books, and even has a book of Discworld art out in the market now.

But what REALLY drew my attention was these babies:



All together now: NAC MAC FEEGLE!!!!!

These are tiny resin figures of the main Feegles, originally designed & sculpted by Paul Kidby as a one-off birthday gift for Terry Pratchett, but now available on the website.

Damn I wish I could have a set of these. But they cost £29.95 (around RM210) EACH, and are only limited to 2000 pieces worldwide. Boohoo...

But if you want one, you can always check out the site HERE.

They even have portrait heads of Discworld characters (butno Granny Weatherwax... :-( )

Damn my pathetically low salary and my money-sucking insurance payments. *sob*

An Interview with Glenda Larke

No time for anything else, so I'll just post a head's up to the article on Glenda Larke and the Isles of Glory trilogy that was published in The Star today.

Follow this link for the interview: Writing The Fantastic

And this link for the review of The Isles of Glory: Magic on The Isles of Glory.

Glenda's website is here: Glenda Larke

Thursday, 13 January 2005

The Self-Help-Book for the Self-Help-Book-Lover

This came about when The Visitor and I were standing around (rather, hovering like vultures over) a colleague, talking about someone she'd interviewed who had just written a self-help book.


The Self-Help Book for the Self-Help-Book-Lover
(Previously published as How I Got Rich by Making a Bunch of Suckers Buy my Self-Help Book)


Prologue:
The secret to being a successful self-helper is to help other self-help as well. The best way to accomplish this is by helping ME write MORE self-help books by buying MORE copies of this Self-Help book, even if all I talk about is dairy products being moved about in a maze.

Chapter One: How Buying this book makes it easier for ME to help YOU!
The best way to help YOURSELF is by helping ME, and that is by buying more copies of this book. The more copies YOU buy, the easier it shall be for ME to write more self-help books that will help YOU help YOURSELF! Yeah!

Exercise: Count how many pages there are in this book. Buy enough books to make up 1000-pages.

Chapter Two: How this Book can help YOU save YOUR money!
Since you will be spending your money on this book and nothing else but this book, that means YOU won't be wasting YOUR money buying other things like food and clothes, and therefore, you save your money!
Remember, buying self-help books is not a waste of money, because YOU ARE helping YOURSELF after all!

Exercise: For every cent you spend on buying unnecessary items like clothes or food or petrol, smack yourself on the head with this book.

Chapter Three: How Cheese and Chicken Soup can help YOU!
Moving cheese around is fun. There is nothing more fun than moving cheese. After moving the cheese, eat some chicken soup. It's good for YOUR soul. While YOU are at it, add some Fish too.
Remember a healthy diet is the first step towards helping YOURSELF! Yeah!

Exercise: Everyday, keep a piece of mouldy cheese on your table and count how many times people move it. For every time the cheese is moved, reward yourself by eating a burger or a steak. If not, stick to fish, cheese and chicken soup.

Chapter Four: How reading a book can help YOU help YOURSELF!
Remember, unless you read it in a book, what other people tell YOU is not true. Anyone can tell you how to move cheese, but if it is in a Self-Help book like this, then it must be true. After all, the book outsells the Bible!
And if millions of people in the world don't get rich after reading self-help books, then they are reading the WRONG books! So help YOURSELF! Read MY book!

Chapter Five: How to Help ME help YOU to Continue Letting ME Help YOU!
To know how to further help me to help you, buy MORE copies of this book! Help me get this book into the bestseller's lists!
I can only write the sequel to this self-help book if I make enough money from THIS book, you see. So help me help you!

Exercise: Get a friend. Bribe him into reading this book. Then compete with one another to see how many copies of this book you each can buy.

Epilogue: Quotable Quotes for each day of the week:
Monday: You can only help yourself if you help yourself, so help yourself!
Tuesday: Cheese cannot move by itself. YOU have to help it move!
Wednesday: You can only achieve greatness by buying this book.
Thursday: Everyone who reads self-help books can achieve greatness. Those who do not are reading the WRONG books
Friday: A dollar saved is another book bought
Saturday: You Jump, I Jump
Sunday: Tomorrow is Monday

There Be Dragons in Me Eye

Ah... Dragons. Who wouldn't love them? (Besides that virgin who's about to be eaten by one, of course)

My current desktop wallpaper is the cover of Robin Hobb's Fool's Fate (book 3 of the Tawny Man saga). It has two dragons in the midst of a fight (or rather, I think it's their mating dance). Check it out:

(Pix from Amazon.co.uk)

For a bigger picture without the words, go to John Howe's site HERE.

I liked Hobb's dragons in the Liveship Traders trilogy and the Tawny Man saga because they had CHARACTER. They had their own CULTURE. While most fantasy novels tend to have dragons as monsters that go around eating people and wrecking havoc, one tended to CARE more about Hobb's dragons.

My first reading experience with a Dragon was The Hobbit's Smaug.

(Pix taken from Thain's Book)

I always thought Smaug was cool, even though I also thought the name was a little funny, and that little hole in that otherwise impenetrable armor of jewels was a little too convenient.

I'm even planning to get this action figure because it reminds me so much of Smaug:

(Pix taken from Spawn.com)

Other books with dragons that I liked are the Dragonlance books by Weis and Hickman where Dragons are obviously a major part of the book. Terry Pratchett's version of a Dragon in the City Watch Discworld book Guards! Guards! was quite impressive too, even though it was a spoof of stereotypical fantasy dragons.

Even Harry Potter books have dragons, what with Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, Hagrid's pet dragon in The Philosopher's Stone, and Harry facing off with a Hungarian Horntail in Goblet of Fur.. I mean Fire.

(Pix from Amazon.co.uk)

Though Rowling's portrayal of dragons is still somewhat stereotypical, what I DO like about her dragons is that each country of the world has their own dragons - Hungarian Horntails, Norwegian Ridgebacks, Chinese Fireball, Welsh Green and Swedish Short-snout.

Makes you wonder if there is a Malaysian Madhead dragon somewhere.

I've only read the first two books of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books, but her dragons also seem quite impressive and interesting, although I didn't really find the story that appealing to me (I mean, THREADS from the sky? Aiyor). However, her dragons reminded me more of prehistoric flying dinosaurs, especially in THIS cover:

(Pix from BarnesandNoble.com)

Then, there are Chinese dragons. I always thought they looked a little silly, with their long worm-like bodies. I mean, just look at it:

(Pix taken from Here Be Dragons)


Ok, so this one doesn't look too bad. But how about THIS one then:

(Pix taken from China:Dim Sum)

THAT's the kind of Chinese dragon I mean. The green kind with long scaly, worm-like bodies, long moustaches and a weird constipated expression on their faces. Not cool. Not cool at all.

But then again, they are pretty powerful. They had magic, could shape-shift, guarded gods and emperors, and could control the wind and rain elements.

I remember one time the Hong Kong comic Storm Riders took the Chinese dragon and turned it into a Tyrannosaurus Rex-like creature instead. Now THAT was a disappointment.

Anyway, for more information about dragons, check out this site: Here Be Dragons, especially their section on What is a Dragon?. It has all sorts of dragons there, and nice pictures too.

Don't bother going to Dragons.com or Dragon.com though. Those domains are owned by IT companies. Ceh.

Tuesday, 11 January 2005

Eye on Girls

Am writing this with a broad grin on my face. Interviewing pretty girls always get me that way, especially when she is a former Miss Malaysia. :-D

In the true spirit of the moment, let's talk about girls then (Stop rolling your eyes, Erna).

After all, someone DID suggested previously that I have an Eye on Girls (Hur hur).

Ok, ok, to be more specific, let's talk about girls or heroines in fantasy books.

Sadly, females in fantasy novels tend to be kinda shallow. They are either weepy damsels in distress, or the stereotypical warrior princess with blond hair and skimpy clothes. Almost every one of them would fulfill at least three out of these characteristics:
  • Beautiful (or at least 'attractive')
  • Tall
  • Blonde
  • Long hair
  • Blue/Green eyes
  • Wears skimpy outfits
  • Good in bed

Of course, some heroines ARE not like that. But they are a rare breed. And less fun to read about. And the cover illustrations are less nice to look at.

So I'm shallow. So sue me.

One of my all-time favorite characters in a fantasy novel is Lord of the Rings' Eowyn. She's the best female character in the books, she kicks Witch-King butt, and at the very least, she doesn't sit around the house sewing standards. The movie made Eowyn look a bit too fragile and weepy, but I was happy with Miranda Otto's portrayal of her anyway. Better her than Arwen, I always say.

When I interviewed Glenda Larke about her Isles of Glory books, she mentioned that she specifically wanted a 'more mature' woman as her heroine, not some fawning damsel who fans herself all the time. As it turned out, Blaze Halfbreed was fairly entertaining to read about, I guess, but still a little too Amazonian though.

I somehow think that in children's fantasy novels, the female characters always turn out better. Probably because the author doesn't feel obligated to stick them in skimpy outfits (thank goodness for THAT). Also, they also seem a lot stronger than the male leads.

Heck, even in the Harry Potter books, Hermione was a far more interesting character than Harry himself. (Let's not mention Lucy and Susan in the Narnia (C.S. Lewis) books though. Yeech)

For children's fantasy, I like His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman) Lyra best. She was a nice character who you actually CARED about rather than just READ about. I also like Pratchett's Tiffany Aching, who in my book is a way better witch than Hermione.

Back to adult female heroines, one of the er.. 'shallower' (read: sexy outfits) female heroines I like are Catti'Brie from RA Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden books. Sure, she's a little shallow, but she shoots a mean arrow, and besides, which other character would have the guts to fall in love with a dark elf?

Oh, and since I mentioned Pratchett, let's also include Susan, Death's grandaughter. Very cool character. And to wrap things up, here are his BEST and most UNconventional heroines (Read: does not comply with above-mentioned criteria) from Discworld.

Take a bow, you Witches of Lancre. Grandma Weatherwax is THE greatest witch I've read about. And Nanny Ogg is just... well, Nanny Ogg is indescribable. Go read the books.

There you have it. My Eye on Girls (though I doubt the witches still qualify as 'girls'), in the true EoE spirit of books.

Now, let me drool over those (former) Miss Malaysia pictures in peace.


Monday, 10 January 2005

The Grailquest for Lone Wolf's hide

While we're still on the subject of childhood books, I figured this would be a good time to drag out another childhood favorite of mine: LONE WOLF!




Remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)books that used to come out by the truck load back in the 80's? Those were great at first, but by the 3954th book that you've read about another mission in Mars or another Egyptian adventure where you chose between running away to the East or running away to the West, I kinda wished there was something similar that was more fun.

Enter the Lone Wolf gamebooks.

I LOVED the old Lone Wolf gamebooks by Joe Dever because they were just so cool. Come to think of it, I think those books more than anything else, fueled a childhood love for swords, magic, dragons and monsters; so much that by the time I read The Hobbit and LOTR, I was wishing they'd come up with a gamebook for LOTR as well. I even had Lego versions of the Sommerswerd and the Dagger of Vashna.

According to Demian's Gamebook Web Page, the books are actually a "continuing fantasy storyline with character advancement, strategic inventory management and above-average writing, these are in the top three of famous interactive book series right along with Fighting Fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventure."

The reader controls Lone Wolf, the last survivor of an order of green-robed warrior-monks known as the Kai, as he grows in power and wisdom and overcomes his nemeses, the Darklords of Helgedad.

The gameplay was simple. In each book, Lone Wolf has a mission, and you chose the path which Lone Wolf uses to get to the end of the mission. Along the way, you have to fight, and make 'tough' decisions (some random), and you handled all these with the help of a funny number system where you poked your pencil at a page full of random numbers.

Kinda like rolling dice, but with a page from a Form Five Buku Log.

The best part of the character was his special abilities you could choose. Stuff like Mind over Matter (moving objects with your mind), Sixth Sense (something like Spider sense without the spider), Animal Kinship (making buddy-buddy with animals), Tracking, and some others I can't remember. These were really fun.

There were actually almost 20 Lone Wolf books published all together. The first twelve were Lone Wolf's adventures before he reaches Grand Master status, which were the best ones. After that, Lone Wolf's Grand Master status pretty much makes him rather invinsible, and books 13-20 were a breeze, so to speak. (Another extra eight books had readers make a whole new character themselves instead of Lone Wolf, but those just weren't fun anymore.)

The books have all gone out of print now. In fact, I'm the only person I know who STILL has the complete set of books 1-20 (actually, I'm the only person I know who actually READ them. Anyone else?)

Another gamebook series that I love even MORE than Lone Wolf was Grailquest.



This is a wacky parody of King Arthur, where the lead character (YOU) is a wannabe adventurer from the future called Pip (Yes. P-I-P), who wields a sawn-off version of Excalibur called EJ (Excalibur Junior).

EJ talks. He's sarcastic. He also gives you +8 on all Hits when you fight. Nuff' said.

Although this was a 'Gamebook', I never got around to PLAYING it. The gameplay used dice and was just too messy for me. Besides, it was too much fun READING it than playing it anyway.

Among the funny things was the "Number 14" gag. 14 was the number of the page you went to whenever you died in EVERY BOOK. so, when you fight, and you lose, you had to Go to 14.

Don't ask me why. Damn funny though.

I blame my very weird sense of humour and my love for British humour on Grailquest. Some of the stuff is just so silly. Stuff like:

Glug, Glug, Glug.
That's the sound of you drowning, Pip. Wanna hear it again?
Ok.
Glug, Glug, Glug.

You also had crazy tasks where you had to build weird paper ships, and compose poems for the World's Worst Poet. Literally.

Words can't describe how funny this books were. Too bad it only lasted 8 books, and I only have six of them. Sigh.

Anyway, go check out this site: Demian's Gamebook Web Page. It has lots of stuff on gamebooks. Very nostalgic. :-)

Friday, 7 January 2005

Books for the kid that was me

Disclaimer: This blog does not follow the pre-requisite 'formula' of "Commentary + Links + Extracts (quotes)" that is prescribed by a certain prominent blogger, and therefore should not be read by anyone.

As such, I don't really apologize to any readers who DO read this blog and are offended by the fact that I don't give a damn about the darn formula.

--------------------------------

Am in the middle of dissecting the entire history and countless rules of field hockey and condensing it into 1000 words, and failing miserably. Who knew cutting and pasting could be so hard?

Thankfully, I shot off a 700-word review of Zizou Corder's Lionboy: The Chase this morning. Meaning at least I got some work done, and I can't be accuse of slacking off at work reading blogs.

Anyway, while I was writing that review, I thought of all the nice little children's books that I used to read when I was a kid. I used to love Enid Blyton's books, especially those on The Faraway Tree.

In fact, when I was a kid, my sister and I used to have a nice little spot in the abandoned construction land near our house in Temerloh where we'd have our own versions of the Slippery-Slip slide that went down the middle of the Tree (I even came up with a Bumpity-Bump 'slide' later on. It hurt like hell.)

Anyway, I digress. Back to children's books. I liked Faraway Tree because I used to imagine as a kid what it would be like to go to the lands on top of the tree. The Wishing Chair books were pretty fun as well. I'd paste little wings on one of my little stools and pretend I was flying off to another land, where my Legos didn't get confiscated if my dad stepped on them.

Yup, my imagination was pretty wild back then.

Here, I have compiled a short list of children's books that I read in the past (whether as a kid or as an adult) that I would like to read to MY children in the future.

1) The Faraway Tree series, by Enid Blyton
Like I said, nothing fuels the imagination more than a man with a moon for a face, and a guy who thinks saucepans and kettles are high fashion.

2) The Lionboy series, by Zizou Corder
the book made me wish I could speak Cat too. It has cute characters and a nice story. Definitely better as a children's book than Harry Potter.

3) The Wee Free Men & A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett
Lovely, lovely books that adults would enjoy reading to kids. Though personally, I'd leave this book off the bedtime story reading list until the kids are at least eight years old.

4) The Brer Rabbit books
Can't remember who wrote these, but Brer Rabbit's adventures were among my favorite stories when I was a kid.

5) The Mr and Little Miss series'
The first book I ever owned was Little Miss Magic (which I won, ironically, in a contest organized by The Star) back when I was only 8 years old. I tried to convince my dad to buy me more, but the lack of bookstores in Temerloh stopped THAT from happening. Anyway, I loved these books, because there were just so fun to read. And Mr Tickle is always good for a laugh. :-)

6) The Little Prince
This is a very charming book that I only got around to reading (and owning) a few years back. It's story is meaningful, and the drawings are cute too.

7) Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
I loved this book too. And the ending is just so sad. :-(


Other books that I would keep around for my kids are:
  • Any Dr Seuss books
  • Enid Blyton's 'Five Find-Outers' books
  • All the Three Investigators books (I loved these!)

And no, Harry Potter is not there. And neither is His Dark Materials or Narnia. Don't ask me why, but I just don't really want my future kids to be reading these three series at too young an age.

------------------------------

PS: Maybe when I get around to reading Daphne's copy of the Uncle stories, I might add it to the list too. It sounds fun, and the way Daphne gushes over it all the time, I think it SHOULD make the list sooner or later. :-)

PSS: My mom also collects a lot of children's books for pre-school children, and I think those are great as well. But that is another story.

Update: After more thought, I realised I left Little Prince and Charlotte's Web out of the list. So I've added them. :)

Thursday, 6 January 2005

When is a blog not a blog?

And now, we take a short break from our regular program to bring you this non-book, non-movie, non-music, non-toy and non-eyeris post.

-------------------------------------
BEGIN RANT

What is it about?

Blogs.

Yes... Blogs.

Erna's Saving Dreams blog has this post here: BLOG SNOBS, which is about how this 'blogger' sniffed:

"According to Oon Yeoh, "The blogging phenomenon we all read and hear about in the US is NOT online diaries. When we read in the US media about an explosion in blogging activities, what they are referring to are news blogs or blogs that comment about the news. Not about someone's personal life. There really is a distinction between the two (blogs and online diaries) but people here don't seem to know or care about that."

Ah... so.

I was always under the impression that a BLOG is short for WEB-LOG, meaning a log of events that one keeps... ie: a journal!

But according the the interviewee, it seems as though 'blogs' are NOT meant to be journals, but something that is totally different! But didn't these so call 'blogs' stem from first being about people writing about what they cared about?

This sounds a bit like the chicken and egg thingy eh? Did online journals come first, or did the blog come first?

One thing I don't like about some 'blogs' is how some try to be too self righteous at times, and try to force their views down people's throats. Sure, its fine if you wanna just tell people about the news and views, but when you start trying to be all self-righteous and noble and start preaching to people about how THEY should think, then there's something wrong there. You might as well become a TV evangelist.

To me, blogs should always contain a certain, personal part of the blogger. THAT is why blogging is so fun. It's letting people know how you feel, and how you think, and NOT just about telling people about the news or issues, stuff that people can read in the NEWS. The personal touch is what attracts me the most when reading a blog.

Also, to me, the fun part of blogging is the FREEDOM of just doing what you want. No one to tell you what to write about, no deadlines, and certainly no one to tell you that YOUR 'BLOG' is NOT a BLOG.

When you start blogging just to please your readers, THAT'S when you start becoming self-righteous and sometimes indulgent.

The HELL with people who think that 'blogs' should be for the masses and should 'do justice' to the public. I'm all for people blogging about their personal life. It's a lot more entertaining than another bloody post on the inadequacies of the political situation in Timbuktu.

END RANT
--------------------------------------------------

On a more personal note, I'd always wondered what kind of focus I should give this insignificant, little and supposedly NON-blog of mine.

As my title above implies, I'm pretty undecided. Should I talk about books? Or movies? Or music? Or toys? Or just about everything (it IS my Eye on Everything after all).

As it is, I'm quite inclined to let it focus mostly on it being a book blog, with slight diversions in the form of movies, music and some wacky stuff here and there.

But then again, talking about books all the time can be a bit boring, I know. And there's only so much one can talk about words on a stack of paper bound together inside a piece of cardboard.

As it is, I'm open to suggestions on what I should blog about.

Suggestions anyone? Feedback? Anyone?

Hello?

Wednesday, 5 January 2005

Keeping up with The Times

Had to take half the day off yesterday after I came down with a 'viral infection' according to the doctor. On Monday I was fine, but overnight, it seems I caught a fever, a sore throat AND a coLd all at the same time. Only thing missing was a cough, or else I'd have a complete set. Darn.

Am feeling better today though. Well enough to get back to work on those stories my boss is chasing me for. And to blog, of course.

Anyway, I received a list which was The New York Times' best books of the year the Wordup mailing lists, and being the sucker for lists that I am, I checked them out. (No, don't ask me for the list. I can't find it either. And besides, it's too damn long to post here).

Depressingly, I'd only read ONE of the books in ALL the lists - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I haven't even FINISHED yet). I'd not even HEARD of many of the books that were on the lists.

That got me thinking (which is never a good thing).

HOW THE HECK do they compile these lists? Do they have little elves hidden away in their basements, frantically reading EVERY book that is released and sifting through them, eliminating the really bad ones, and finally passing up the say... a few hundred good ones to the handful of book reviewers that the publication employs, who then read THOSE books as fast as they can, and then review them?

On average, I take about a week to read a book, then about another week to finish the roughly 500-1000 word review (that's IF I'm feeling productive, which I'm usually not).

At this estimated rate (which again, considers the fact that I'm being productive), I'd have read AND reviewed around 26 books a year. Also, that is considering that these books are all FICTION books, since I only ever read those. Which means I'd STILL have missed a few.. er.. THOUSAND other good books that OTHER people would be recommending, and reviewing and putting on their 'Best of' lists.

My final conclusion - There is NO POINT trying to keep up to that kind of schedule or pace, just to be able to cover ALL best books of each year.

To me, reading is fun. I don't want it to become a chore, so I shall take my time with each book (which, in the case of The Name of the Rose, was around two years). It's a lot more fun that way.

And the heck with all those books I've not heard of on the New York Times 'Best Books of the Year' lists, or ANYONE'S Best Books lists. I'm sticking to what I like, and so there!

Monday, 3 January 2005

Howe did I miss this site?

I can't believe I only just found John Howe's website today. In all my years of scouring the net for images of Lord of the Rings and other fantasy artwork, I'd somehow missed Howe's site, which has all the great paintings he's done for LOTR and other fantasy books, including Robin Hobb, and even the odd Grailquest book.

In case you still don't know who Howe is, he's the guy who (together with fellow illustrator Alan Lee) did the art designs for the LOTR movies. To many, Howe and Lee's paintings and drawings were the closest thing to Tolkien's own vision of how Middle-Earth looked like.

Here's the link to his site: John Howe. I spent the best part of two hours just looking through the pretty paintings....

For the gallery of his work, go HERE.

And for his work on Robin Hobb's books, go HERE.

Sunday, 2 January 2005

Revolutionized Resolutions

Ah... New Year's Day. Normally such a festive day, but so subdued and so sorrowful this year. Anyway, for all it's worth, Happy New Year, and may 2005 be a happier year than the last.

On another note, I just realized that I've had this blog for more than six months already. What started out as a pretty good idea has become an avenue for me to write stuff I don't normally write about. Am surprised that I HAD so much to blog about, and that it lasted so long, unlike a blog my colleague started, which lasted all of er... two days. Hehe.

I've decided that since it is already the second day of 2005, I'm not gonna go on with the idea of that series' of lists (Also because coming up with the lists turned out to be harder than I thought. I could only come up with two types of mosquitoes that were my favorites - the ones that don't bite, and the kind that stay on your arm long enough for you to smack it).

I think the only list that I WILL make right now is my list of New Year's Resolutions.

Now, I'm usually not one to make resolutions for the new year, mainly because I have never been able to keep them. Therefore, this year, I shall make some resolutions that are easier to keep (read: less chance of messing them up).

Also, since this is more or less a book blog (I think), the resolutions here shall concern books (besides, you don't really wanna know what my actual personal resolutions are. Trust me, you don't.)

Here we go!

Resolution Number 1 = Read more books (As if I don't read enough already)

Resolution Number 2 = FINISH more books (Aha, that's more like it. Too many books in 2004 started and not finished)

Resolution Number 3 = Stop buying so many books (I even came up with a system for this. I shall resolve to only buy a book only if I have finished one first. As if THAT'S gonna work)

Resolution Number 4 = Wrap my books (Lots of em are getting pretty beat up)

Resolution Number 5 = Read more books from the non-fantasy genre (I estimate that only one out of five books I read in 2004 was NOT a fantasy novel. Time to read something else then?)

Resolution Number 6 = Return books that I have borrowed (Erna's Name of the Rose which I borrowed... er... two years ago, tops the list. ;-P )