Thursday, 31 March 2005

Neighborly Visits from the North to the South

After just coming back from our friendly neighbor in the North, I shall be heading South tomorrow to our kiasu neighbors next, this time for a nice little holiday with my larling. :-)

This time, I doubt there'll be any free broadband services waiting for me, so regular blog transmission shall resume only next week! :-)

I've never really liked Singapore personally. Nothing against the country though. I just feel very out of place there. It's in Asia, but somehow detached from the REAL Asia.

An 'ang mo' friend of mine once said that Singaproe is actually a very sanitized version of the REAL Asia. It's a place you go to when you want clean restaurants, easy life, spanking clean tourists attractions, and still be able to tell your friends back in Europe that you've been to Asia.

Come out of Singapore to Malaysia, and things can be SOOO different.

Will add more into this post later, right now, I'm off to catch the two hour special of The Amazing Race 7. :)

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

Updated: 1:54am

Ok, just finished the Amazing Race. Very exciting two episodes. That's all you're getting out of me. :-)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Singapore.

After crossing the Causeway, one can see jsut how different Johor Baru and Singapore is. Where Singaproe was squeaky clean and neat, JB is just a mess, especially the part near the Causeway.

Now, THAT, my friends is the REAL South East Asia.

Not air-conditioned walkways, big posh shopping complexes, or Penang Laksa that only resembles the actual laksa by name alone.

The REAL Asia is may be dirty and unhygenic, but a tiny Asam Laksa stall next to a marketplace drain in Penang, or a coconut pudding stall by the road sides in Bangkok has a whole lot more character than a hundred Orchard Roads and Sentosa Islands.

BTW, no offence meant to Singaporeans who read this blog. I mean, I like some parts of Singapore too, and I go there quite often as well. But I still prefer Malaysia. :-)

PS: Another thing that will probably get me in trouble, but I just had to say something. It's just a small note about the flood of blogs rushing to post about the quake.

While it's fine to report it and give your own experiences on feeling the tremors, it's quite another thing to be advicing people to hide under tables, not go to work (just in case), cancel their vacations to Langkawi and so forth.

It's called spreading PARANOIA, folks, and that is hardly credible journalism.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

No to Bloom on My Books!

Don't you just hate it when a book has this sentence pasted all over its front cover:

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!

or

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!


It's as if the movie somehow is GREATER than the book, and that without a movie, the book would be nothing.

RIIIIGHT.

When a book is good enough to 'inspire' a movie (and I use the word 'inspire' very loosely), it seldom needs that tagline to encourage people to buy it. Look at The Da Vinci Code. word of mouth spread like wildfire, and it hasn't left the MPH and Kinokuniya bestseller lists for more than a year now. And the book doesn't even have a movie. Yet.

However, I was in Kinokuniya today, and it seemed as though almost every other book I saw in the General Fiction section had that sentence all over it. Everything from Grisham, to Ludlum and Amy Tan had that sentence. Even the children's section was not spared, infecting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dr. Seuss, and a few others.

Even the fantasy section was not spared. Tolkien's books were the worse hit, with that bloody tagline pasted all over covers of most of the copies of Lord of the Rings. What was even more insulting was that some of the covers were replaced by the MOVIE POSTER.

GAAAAAA!

While some may argue that a lot of people only HEARD of the LOTR books because of the movie (and that the popularity of the books and fantasy in general soared because of the movie), I somehow hate it when I see bloody Orlando 'Nancing elf' Bloom (who isn't even a MAJOR character in the books, just a supporting one) on the covers of my beloved LOTR books, shoving placing all the wonderful John Howe and Alan Lee-illustrated covers aside.

It's.... unnatural.

The only one I didn't object to was the one with Eowyn on the cover, but then again, I still felt a slight pang of displeasure.

Just a little bit.

Anyway, I'm now starting to dread the influx of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Narnia books with an picture of an actor staring out at me. And I'm REALLY dreading the numerous pictures of Tom Hanks staring at me from bookshelves all over the world when The Da Vinci Code movie comes out.

PS... Speaking of movies and books, I just heard that they are working on a movie adaptation for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

Well, good luck with that. It's probably gonna be like the books - brilliant beginning, so-so second quarter, deadly boring and irrelevant third, and unfinished finale...

PSS... oh, and BTW, I'm not counting comic book adaptations. Those are different creatures altogether.

Monday, 28 March 2005

The Bangkok Chronicles: PayLess on the Streets

Well, waddaya know, a post about books. From Bangkok too. :-)

One thing I REALLY didn't expect to find here was cheap books. Ok, lemme rephrase that - cheap ENGLISH books.

Then while I was walking along Khao San Road (or somewhere near that area, I got lost a bit wandering around the back alleys), I found THIS:



At first I was skeptical. How cheap can it get, and surely there can't be any good books available HERE?

Guess again. While there were a whole lot of Lonely Planet guidebooks to cater for the average traveler, there was also a lot of good fiction and non-fiction available. I say a few good Bill Brysons, a Salman Rushdie, a few Bryce Courtneys and also the pre-requisite Dan Browns and Grishams.

And there were quite a number of stalls scattered around the area too. Cool.

Anyway, at this particular stall, I bought two books - Life of Pi (Yann Martel), and The Da Vinci Code (By you know who).

Yes yes, I bought The Da Vinci Code, the book I despise so much and swore not to read until everyone stopped talking about it (Yes, people are STILL recommending it to me).

But at 200 baht (aprox. RM20) for a fairly new secondhand book, who wouldn't? I bought both books at the same price, and the lady also told me if I wanted to return the books, she will buy it back at 100 baht each.

Something like novel rental shops in KL, I guess, except that these stalls are a lot less picky about what books they buy back. One sign even proudly declares that 'We Buy Everything'.

Wonder if they'll accept my old Turbo Pascal textbooks too...

BTW, this will probably be my last post from Bangkok, because I'm flying back this evening. Damn. Wish I could stay here longer. :(

And so, this marks the end of The Bangkok Chronicles. Regular blog transmission will resume sometime next week, when I recover from the shock of being back in KL. :)

Sunday, 27 March 2005

The Bangkok Chronicles: Tired Feet and Tanned Skin

I spent most of the day sight-seeing today (having done most of my interviews already) and boy am I tired. Eight hours of solid walking around, boating around, and getting lost. Only thing missing was a tuk-tuk ride.

My main mode of transportation today was a boat going up the Chao Praya River. My first stop was a magnificent temple called Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn. It's one of Bangkok's most famous landmarks, and boy, was it cool. Here's what it looks like:



I also found THIS guy taking a nap, safely in the arms of a bodyguard.



After snapping a few hundred shots at Wat Arun, I crossed the river to Wat Pho, which supposedly has the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand.

Having had my fill of giant reclining Buddhas in Penang and Kelantan before, I decided to skip it, and wander around the compound instead. And I saw THIS guy:



Imagine that, a deity guardian with a top hat. Wonder if he can tap dance too.

Anyway, after Wat Pho, I decided to walk to the Grand Palace, which was just nearby. Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the front gate, and I had to walk almost 20 minutes around THIS damn wall:



Then, when I finally got to the front gate, I had THIS to contend with:



Sigh... I had to rent a pair of long pants to go into the palace grounds. NOT very nice when you're there at freaking NOON.

Anyway, this is where I was - The Grand Palace and the Emerald Temple (pictured here):



I wandered around here for a while. Very cool place, and very... GOLDEN. Everything here shines gold. Including THIS guy, who looked pretty happy considering he's made from stone and has to hold up a tower:



THIS guy don't look too happy though:



After the palace, I got lost a little, taking the wrong turn down a back-lane, and then hopping on the wrong boat, ending up on a deserted little pier somewhere under a bridge. Sigh...

After I finally got my bearings, I went to Khao San Road, which is like Petaling Street in KL, with lots of hawker shops, pirated CD stalls, and even loads of secondhand book stalls! (More on this in another post)

Eventually, eight hours and a nice tan later, I got tired of walking around, and hopped on a boat that took me back to the hotel.

All in all, a pretty good trip, I must say. Wish I had more time though...

Saturday, 26 March 2005

The Bangkok Chronicles: Uniformed Sexiness

It was only after I came to Thailand almost ten years ago that I realized that Malaysian school uniforms are REALLY ugly.

No, I'm not talking about male uniforms. THOSE are ugly all over the world.

I'm talking about the girls' uniforms. While Malay school uniforms is essentially just a blue and white baju kurung, the non-Malay ones just suck big time. An apron-like blue vest-cum-skirt with a white shirt? Ugh.

Now THAI schoolgirl uniforms are a different creature all together. I mean, just look at them!:



Short, black, mini skirts!

All together now (ok, GUYS, all together now): WHOOOOAAAAA....

Believe it or not, these are Thai school uniforms. And the already generally good-looking Thai girls look real good in them.

Another kind of uniform I saw was a longer skirt, but with slits at the side...

One more time, with FEELING: WHOOOOOAAAA....

I tell you, if Malaysian schools adopt the same kind of uniforms instead of those horrible blue ones, more guys would stay in school and not drop out.

Anyway, tomorrow's my last day here (ok, last day and a half), and I'm gonna take some time to do some sightseeing tomorrow morning, before heading to the venue again for more interviews.

Hopefully, I should have more to update about then, rather than just pictures of girls. :P

Well, wadaya know, I've got some pix of Thai girls after all. What? Not cute enough? Gee whiz, tough crowd...

(UPDATE: According to Dhana those are actually Thai UNIVERSITY uniforms. Damn. I distinctly remember being told they were high-school uniforms when I was here ten years ago. But never mind, who cares anyway? You don't get uniforms like that ANYWHERE in Malaysia!)

The Bangkok Chronicles: Smog-covered Suns

My impression of capital cities will always be one of smog-covered skyscrapers.

I've been to a number of capital cities, and almost everyone of them have been covered in haze. And I thought Kuala Lumpur was the only one with that problem.

Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, and now Bangkok - all these cities were covered in haze when I got there. It's as if the haze in KL follows me everywhere.

Only Singapore is somehow always smog-free, but then again... it's Singapore. Pah.

The most frustrating thing about the haze is you can't get a nice clear view of the city skyline, which is really crappy if you are staying on the 59th floor with a nice balcony that looks west. Can't even get a decent sunset shot. When the sun sets, the haze basically just DROWNS the damn thing.

After waiting two frustrating days for the sun to set and for the smog to clear so I can get a proper sunset shot, I decided to sod it for a lark and go grab a beer instead.

Singha rules, BTW.

Will post about Thai beer later. Hehe.

And nope, still no pix of cute Thai girls.

Friday, 25 March 2005

The Bangkok Chronicles: A Dreamy Night Above Bangkok

Wow.

Last night I was eating by the sidewalk with buses spewing black smoke into my beef noodles, passer-bys jogging my elbow forcing me to spill my soup, and had potential stomach-upsets to worry about.

Tonight, I was dining in style on the 64th floor of my hotel, in a place called The Dome, where I drank beer on a 'sky bar' platform overlooking Bangkok, under the moonlight and with a live band playing into the wind.

Talk about moving up in life eh? :-P

How all this came about was a bit strange though. I'm roomies with this Korean reporter, and he had two fellow Koreans (a VERY cute girl, and her boss) who were here on a busines trip, at the same event I am covering here. One thing led to another, and when we got back, the boss invited my roommate and I to dinner at The Dome. :-)

Very lucky indeed.

Not only did I get to enjoy the sights and sounds 64 floors above Bangkok under a full moon AND have a nice dinner, I also had a nice chat with the Korean chick as well. Haha.

No pictures of her to post though. I mean I DO have pictures, but I ain't posting them. And still no pictures of cute Thai chicks either. :-)

Anyway, here are two cool pix of the Dome, and the band playing:



Unfortunately, they didn't allow us to take photos there (i dinna know why), so this one is rather blur because I had to do it rather sneakily and quickly. A pity. :-(



That singer is one hell of a lady, daring to sing in the open roof of the 64th floor.

Now, it's been a long day, and I'm going to sleep and to dream of romantic views from dreamy heights, and cute Korean chicks. :-)

Yup, it's been a VERY good day indeed. :-)

The Bangkok Chronicles: Sidewalk Noodles

At night in Bangkok, the narrow walkways beside the streets are packed with people walking home from work, or sitting on tables beside the sidewalk, eating a bowl of mee or porridge.

It is one thing to go to a mamak stall in Malaysia and sit in the middle of the road, but it’s a totally different experience eating at a roadside stall in Bangkok.

Sitting next to the divider fence RIGHT next to the road, buses pulled up just inches away from me, and people in the bus would stare at me eating. Tuk-tuks and mini-buses with black smoke coming out of their exhaust whizzed pass me, and people on the sidewalk had to maneuver sideways to avoid my table.

The beef noodles I had on the first day was actually pretty good, but if I get food poisoning the next day, I’m gonna be blaming the vans, tuk-tuks and buses who spit their black smoke into my mee.

Ok, am off to catch the bus and get to work now. Until till later then...

Thursday, 24 March 2005

Gloat post: Greetings from Bangkok!

Greetings from Bangkok, everyone!

Well, waddaya know, I've got broadband in my room.

Anyway, I arrived here safe and sound, and was in my hotel room, catching up on some sleep. Just woke up and decided if the broadband works. Well, obviously it did. Woohoo.

Just to prove that I REALLY am here, here's the view from my room's balcony (I'm on the 59th floor):



Yes yes, I'm gloating. Gyahaha!

And stop smirking, Visitor. I know you just came back from here. And no, I haven't taken any pictures of cute Thai girls yet, though not for lack of trying. Ok, ok, I was too tired to try.

Anyway, Bangkok is proving to be a rather nice change from KL right now. It's... different.

The first hint I got that I was coming to a totally different country was that golf course in the middle of the airport.

There we were, landing in the Bangkok International Airport, and there was this tiny oasis of a golf course nestled between two runways, with tiny golfers dragging their gold clubs behind them, oblivious to the giant planes landing around them. There were no fences, no gates to keep them or their golf balls out of the runway. I wonder what happens if a golfer accidentally slices his shot too wide and it hits a landing aircraft.

The second hint I got was when I followed my designated driver to the car park, and his car was stuck in a parking bay with two cars parked in front of it.

No problem. A signal to a parking attendant nearby remedied the situation. The parking attendants merely PUSHED the other cars out of the way (I think their handbrakes were not pulled on purpose), making way for our car to go through. Everywhere in the car park, I saw these attendants pushing cars around to make way for other cars, or make space for another car to park somewhere. An efficient, if somewhat primitive way of handling the parking woes at the Bangkok International Airport.

The trip from the airport to the hotel took around thirty minutes on this HUGE elevated expressway snaking its way Bangkok, high above the normal roads. Large road signs surrounded us, advertising everything from slimming centers, cars, and printers. Once, a Petronas sign flashed by, kindling a small hint of national pride in me.



See the BIG highway?

I'm looking forward to seeing more of the city later on. I've already put aside my last day here for sight-seeing, and am gonna do the usual Eyeris-traveling-routine of 'jumping on random buses and trains and getting lost'.

Until later then. :-)

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

Update (9:48pm):

Took another picture of the river (the same angle as the first pix), but at night instead. Yes, I'm bored.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Of Tomyam and Cute Thai Girls

Thailand has always been a fascinating country to me. Its got its own unique culture, its own unique taste in food, and the people always seem so happy and friendly (at least the ones I'VE met were).

Plus Thai girls are cute (although sometimes you also have to make sure that they ARE girls).

I've been to Thailand twice in my life (not counting impromptu visits at Bukit Kayu Hitam), and I liked both times. Food was cheap, people were nice, there were lots of pirated goods, and the girls were cute (Did I mention that already? Oh.)

I also managed to sneak over the border at Bukit Kayu Hitam without a passport once, though not on purpose. The toilet at the border happened to be just next to a Thai marketplace, so I just popped over for a short visit.

The Thai language is a peculiar one. My ex-coursemates in uni used to take Thai language classes in UPM, and they showed me their notes once. The pages looked like thy were being invaded by snails.

Snail-like writing aside, Thai is actually a very nice language to listen to. It's kinda melodic, and the Thais speak it in a very sing-song way thats quite fun to listen to. I had a Siamese/Malaysian friend once, and it was always interesting to hear her speak to her family on the phone. Oh, and I used to know how to swear in Thai as well, but I've forgotten it now. Darn.

Thailand's also had some interesting movies lately. Movies like Beautiful Boxer, The Iron Ladies and Ong-Bak have made headway outside of Thailand. Haven't seen any of them yet, but I'd like to. :-)

Why my sudden obsession with Thailand, you say? Well, that's because I'm going to Bangkok on assignment tomorrow morning and gonna be there until next Monday. Hehe.

Oh, and I doubt I'll be updating this blog while I'm there, so unless I manage to find a place to go online while I'm in Bangkok, have a good week ahead. :-)

Another Old-New Look in the Eye

Yup, I changed it again. This time I used the old layout, but transferred the new fonts and colours over to it.

There are still a bit of glitches, and some parts I need to iron out, but so far so good. Still doesn't quite come out right on my Firefox though. Sigh...

And yes, the logo is still there. Bleah!

Will post again later.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Panduan Matrix (ENG-BM-AB) yang ada Satu saja

It's been a while since I've done ENG-BM-AB translations, since the three LOTR ones I did HERE, HERE and HERE.

My colleague showed me THIS entry on mrbrown.com where he posted a Hokkien translation of the Architect's speech in The Matrix Reloaded, and I decided to try and do a translation of the speech myself just for the heck of it.

However, after I did it, I realised it wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, mostly because the bloody Architect's speech is bloody wordy and bloody boring. No chance for any 'Tai Kor, Tai Kor' or any 'member member' here. Only a bunch of stupid mathematical equations that are a bloody headache to translate.

Thank God for my trusty (and outdated) Kamus Times, or I would never have known the translation of 'pertinent' or 'inherent'.

Also, according to Kamus Times, 'Matrix' in Malay is 'Tuangan, Acuan; Kandung'. Well THAT's useful to know.

Anyway, The Architect's speech is too damn long to translate fully, so I've only done the first part. And I doubt I'll do the second.

Gee... I need to find something easier to do next time. As if I don't already have enough work to keep me occupied. :-P

BTW, potential spoilers ahead. Siapa belum tengok Tuangan Dimuatkan Lagi, don't read on.

And apologies in advance to those who don't understand Malay or Ah-Beng-speak. :)

Here we go then!

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


The Architect's Speech to Neo at the end of The Matrix Reloaded


------------------English ---------------------
I am the Architect. I created The Matrix. I've been waiting for you. You have many questions, and although the process has altered your consciousness, you remain irrevocably human.

------------------The BM translation ---------------------
Sayalah Si Jurubina. Saya yang mencipta Matriks. Saya telah menunggu kamu. Kamu ada banyak soalan, dan walaupun proses ini telah menukar kesedaran kamu, tidak dinafikan bahawa kamu tetap manusia.

------------------and now, the Ah Beng version!---------------
Gua olang yang lukis sama ‘dezain’ itu lumah-lumah. Gua jugak olang yang buat ini Matelik punya benda. Gua sulah tunggu lu manyak lama. Lu mungkin jugak ada manyak mau tanya, lagi itu jalan-jalan mungkin sudah tukar lu punya otak, tapi gua ‘gelentee’ lu masih olang.

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

------------------English---------------
Ergo, some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not. Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize it is also irrelevant.

------------------The BM translation---------------------
Oleh itu, kamu akan memahami sebahagian daripada jawapan saya, dan tidak memahami sebahagian lain. Selanjutnya, walaupun soalan pertama kamu mungkin adalah yang paling berkaitan, kamu mugkin atau tidak mungkin akan sedar bahawa ia juga tidak berkaitan.

------------------and now, the Ah Beng version!---------------
Itu pasal, lu boleh paham sikit sikit apa gua cakap, tapi ada sikit lu tak boleh paham. Lagi hor, lu mula-mula mau tanya punya itu benda mungkin ada betui sikit, tapi lu pun tahu jugak itu benda bukan betui sangat.

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

------------------English---------------
Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.

------------------The BM translation---------------------
Kehidupan kamu adalah kesimpulan persamaan tidak seimbang yang sedia ada kepada perancangan Si Matrix. Kamu adalah keakhiran sesuatu barang yang ganjil, yang walau dengan percubaan paling ikhlasku, masih saya tidak boleh menghapuskan dari apa yang sepatutnya suatu ketepatan ilmu hisab yang harmonis.

------------------and now, the Ah Beng version!---------------
Lu punya hidup macam itu manyak pening punya matematik dalam itu Matelik punya ploglam. Lu sudah jadi itu paling last-last punya benda pelik, gua cuba kuat kuat pun tak boleh hapus dali itu manyak hamonica punya matematik.

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

------------------English---------------
While it remains a burden to sedulously avoid it, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here.

------------------The BM translation---------------------
Walaupun ia masih suatu beban untuk mengelakannya dengan rajinnya, ia bukannya tidak disangkakan, dan oleh itu bukannya di seberang suatu pengukuran kawalan. Yang telah memimpinmu, tanpa mengalah, ke sini.

------------------and now, the Ah Beng version!---------------
Itu benda masih jadi satu benda berat kalau mau lajin elak-elak, gua sudah tahu punya, lagi gua sudah ‘contol’ sama dia dekat-dekat. Itu pasal gua tak ada ‘ploblem’ mau bawak lu mali sini.

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

Monday, 21 March 2005

A New Look in the Eye

Yup, I've changed the template. Not by much though.

I used a Blogger template and changed some colours back to some of my original colours,

And yes, the Eyeris Logo that looks like the Mid-Valley Megamall logo is still there.

However, although the layout looks fine in Internet Explorer, it seems to screw up when I open it with Firefox. Can anyone help me fix this problem? I may have an Honors degree in Computer Science, but I'm still not very tech-savvy.

Besides, when I was doing the degree, we learned PASCAL. Much good THAT did me.

And any feedback about the new look is much welcome. If anyone finds any bugs, do tell me, and I'll TRY to fix it.

And no snide remarks about the logo.

:-(

Saturday, 19 March 2005

The E-zy Book Killer

You’d think that someone who spends as much time in front of a computer monitor as I do would read most of his books on the computer instead.

Well, I don’t.

I don’t like electronic books. Never did, and never will.

Maybe it’s BECAUSE I spend so much time looking at the computer screen that I really don’t want to READ an entire BOOK on the monitor. One gets sick of looking at the screen after too long a time. Unless you’re playing CM, of course.

There is just something a lot more fulfilling about reading a PROPER book with paper and all, than reading a book in electronic format.

I’ve tried reading a book in PDF format once (can’t remember what it was now though, because I gave up after the first ten pages). It just wasn’t the same as reading a proper book.

I missed turning pages. I missed flicking the pages. Clicking the mouse distracted me from my reading, for some reason.

Books are meant to be made out of PAPER, with nicely illustrated covers, with PAGES for people to turn, and can be brought ANYWHERE you want, so you can read them ANYWHERE you want, not just when you are in front of the PC.

Just HOLDING the book makes the experience so much more fulfilling. Plus If you're lucky, your book would have a nicely illustrated cover to stare at when you're tired of reading. If you get bored reading an E-Book? You'd have to stare at bloody Windows again.

Speaking of which, if you don't own a PDA or ultra-small laptop, how are you gonna read the e-books? Lug your desktop in your backpack. RIIIGHT.

And no, printing out the pages of the E-book does nothing for me either. It just feels as though I'm reading lecture notes on A4-sized paper.

Besides, what if while reading an E-book, you accidentally press a button and the book jumps to the END of the book and spoils it for you? I can’t take that risk, being as paranoid about spoilers as I am.

I also don’t hold with people downloading E-books for free and not bothering to buy the book. That’s called PIRACY, people.

I buy pirated DVDs sometimes too, but I always try to watch a movie in the cinema first before buying a pirated DVD. Besides, Hollywood makes too much money anyway.

I download music mp3s too, but I always go out and buy an album if I think it is worth buying, even if I have the entire album in mp3 format already.

But a book… I just can’t bring myself to download it and NOT pay for it. Most authors don’t really earn much in the first place (unless you’re a Dan Brown or John Grisham or Michael Crichton, of course), and I feel bad not paying for something that probably took months and months of slogging, writing, editing, rewriting and RE-editing.

(One exception I'll make is Harry Potter though. Go ahead and download Harry Potter for free. Rowling doesn't deserve more money for the junk she's been churning out in the last two books.)

To me, the E-book is just a lazy substitute for the REAL book. Without the cover, the paper and the page flipping, it is NOT a book. Sure, the story and words are the same, but heck, If I wanted to spend hours reading on my PC, I'd rather read blogs instead.

An E-book is NOT a book. It's just an excuse for people NOT to buy books. And it could eventually kill the demand for REAL books in the future.

PS: This post was inspired by a comment by laydiefa over HERE. No offense meant yar? :-)

Friday, 18 March 2005

A Tribute to First Loves

First love.
So many things to remember.
Some sweet, some bitter.
Mostly memorable.
That first feeling of being in love
That silent warmth you feel when you say her name over and over again.
All those hours wondering why you felt like punching any guy who got too close to her.
The first time you realize you loved her.
Getting together.
That first kiss.
That first 'I love you'
Walks in the park.
Sneaking out at night to the public phone
Arguing
Making up
Breaking up.
Tears.
Pining for years thinking you'd never love again.
If you're lucky, you'd stay with your first love till the end.
Good for you then.
If not, cherish your current love
And remember not to make the same mistakes you did with your first love.

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

Sorry for the sentimentality. Just found out that MY first love just got married. Heh.

Ok, back to work again. Will post again later tonight. Probably. :)

Thursday, 17 March 2005

Lesson from Cartman

I am supposed to be on leave today, but I ended up spending the entire day working from home anyway. Deadlines are such dreadful things.

Ah well. After I finished my third story of the day, I decided to watch a single episode of the fourth season of South Park on DVD. And ended up watching the entire season instead.

In case you haven't heard of South Park (Gasp!) it's this crappily animated cartoon show that is completely crass, unpolitically correct, insulting, and downright brilliant. It stars four kids - Stan (The typical All-American kid), Kyle (The Jewish kid), Cartman (The fat kid) and Kenny (The always-dead kid) in a Colorado town of South Park, which keeps getting destroyed by aliens, mutant turkeys, and Barbara Streisand (Bar-boora!!! Barboora!!!)

IMHO, the makers of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are demented genius, and they furthered that genius by making the funniest and most unpolitically correct movie last year - Team America: World Police (Go get it! It's brilliant!)

I used to be crazy over South Park. I watched the first season a few hundred times. I could memorize the songs, recite the lyrics of every song, and even sing Kyle's Mom is a Bitch in one breath (and in D Minor, of course).

Wait a minute, I can still do that.

Then, the movie South Park the Movie: Bigger, Longer & Uncut came out. And I went South Park nuts. I must have watched that movie a million times, and it had weird effects on me. I imitated dead giraffes everytime someone tried to talk to me, I sang duets of La Resistance with my brother, and I irritated the hell out of my girlfriend by impersonating Cartman all the time.

Anyway, I also learned a lot from South Park. And here's what I learned:
  • Jewish kids don't celebrate Christmas
  • Fat people are never fat. They are big-boned
  • Barbara Streisand is evil
  • AIE!!!!
  • Dead giraffe sounds
  • Chef balls are salty
  • Robert Smith rules!
  • Fart jokes
  • Satan is 'feminine'
  • Cows are the most intelligent beings on Earth
  • It's coming right for us!
  • No, kitty this is MY pot pie!
  • Hoooooowdy Ho!
  • Screw you guys, I'm going home
  • Poo is cool
  • What's a buttfor
  • If you are ugly, cover your head with a paper bag

Will add more later. Now I need to get back to work... Sigh...

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Reading on the LRT: An Expert Guide

Was on the LRT this morning and managed to read fifty pages of The Light Ages by Ian R. MacLeod.

I've finished more than one book on the LRT, but sometimes, reading in a crowded LRT can be pretty challenging.

Therefore, I've come up with an expert guide on how I manage to read when the LRT is crowded:

General rules:
  • DON'T bring a HUGE and heavy book (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel comes to mind) on the LRT unless you want people to stare at you.
  • With reference to the above, dropping a heavy book on your foot can also hurt. A lot.
  • When reading in the LRT, the title of the book should always be in plain sight (so you can impress people with your 'intellectual taste').
  • The above does not apply when you're reading Mill & Boons or a Ladybird book.
  • DON'T read ALOUD.

If you have a seat:

  • No problems here. It's a lot easier to read while sitting than when standing in an LRT. Just pretend you're sitting on the toilet with a book.
  • If it is a middle seat with people sitting alongside you on the left and right side, make sure your elbows are tucked into your body and do not nudge your seatmates.
  • Don't put the book on your lap to read. Not only does that force you to slouch and strain your back, it makes you look as if you're reading a porn mag and don't want others to see the pictures.
  • Hold your book firmly (preferably with two hands) in front of you (preferably chest level) so your book does not accidentally hit the person standing in front of you.
  • If the train is crowded, hold your book slightly higher so you won't have to STARE at the crotch of the person standing in front of you.
  • If a cute chick/guy sits opposite you, lift your book slightly higher (the top of book should be level with your 'target's chin), so that you can peep at the girl/guy occasionally while pretending to be intellectual.

If you are standing:

  • Standing while reading in an LRT is a lot trickier, because of the tendency of falling over when the train stops.
  • Try not to fall down. Very embarrassing, that.
  • If you have a wall/tiang to lean on, then it's easier. You can lean on it and don't have to worry about falling.
  • But if you're stuck in the middle of the train with no wall or post to lean on, and only those silly dangly things to hold on to, then you'll have to learn to read with one hand while holding on for dear life with the other.
  • To read with one hand, just hold the bottom of the book spine. Support the book with your fingers at the bottom and thumb on top. Flipping pages with your thumb takes a bit of practice though. Be prepared to drop the book more than once initially. :)

How to pick up a dropped book in a crowded LRT.

  • Try hooking it with one foot and pushing it to the top of the other foot so you can lift your foot and grab the book without actually leaning down. Needs practice though.
  • Alternatively, squat straight down and pick up the book using whatever little space you have, without requiring other passengers to move.
  • If all that fails, just say excuse me to everyone around you and lean over to get the book while trying not to point your bum at the seated passengers.
  • Pick up book as fast as possible so you won't look like you're looking up people's skirts.

Disclaimers:

  • Eyeris is not responsible for any dropped books or slapped faces suffered by anyone who tries the above techniques
  • If you fall down while trying these techniques, it's not my fault either...
  • The above techniques only apply for BOOKS. YOU try reading a newspaper with one hand.

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

What is a Book?

Jayeagle asked this question yesterday: "Eh! What happened to this being a book blog huh?"

Ok-lor, I'll write about books.

I figured I'd try sitting down and letting my mind run wild, thinking of every possible thing I could relate with books. I tend to do that when I'm short on ideas and just free-write to get the ideas going.

Here's about 20% of the list. The rest is a bunch of genres, titles, aithors and other boring stuff:
  • Lots of pieces of paper bound together
  • A lot of words.
  • Hardcovers & paperbacks
  • Pages & Chapters
  • Fiction or non-fiction
  • Dust covers
  • About the Author page
  • Steamy sex scenes
  • Synopsis' that give away the story
  • Dogears
  • Bookmarks
  • No pictures?
  • Little blue men
  • Cool illustrations
  • Appendix & Glossaries
  • Maps
  • Literature
  • Paperweight
  • Things to balance your action figures on
  • Dust collecters
  • Bookshelves
  • Too many books
  • Fantasy
  • Imagination
  • Payless
  • Warehouse sales
  • Borrowed but never returned
  • Time killers
  • Mosquito killers
  • Sex tips
  • Impressing chicks by looking intellectual
  • Good books, lousy movies

I think I'll use this list as a guide to my book-related posts next time. :)

Anyone care to add on to the list? Just let your mind run free and write me a list of any bloody thing you can associate with books.

Popular Bookstore Warehouse Sale!

Just got the information about this last night from Liz Tai. Thanks Liz!

Popular Bookstore Warehouse sale

Venue: Summit USJ
Date: Now until 20th March, apparently

According to Liz, there are quite a number of good books going for cheap prices. she has a full report on the sale HERE.

Me thinks me will go on Thursday when I'm on leave... :)

Monday, 14 March 2005

The Only Brightside of Hot Fuss

Ever heard a song and wanted to learn it so you can sing it over and over again, and repeating it on your CD player a few million times just to memorize the lyrics?

No? Oh.

Anyway, am currently going nuts over The Killers' Mr. Brightside. When I first heard the song, there was just something that caught my attention and made me wanna learn the lyrics and scream it in the car.

Maybe it was the opening intro that was reminiscent of some of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs. Maybe it was the catchy lyrics and infectious beat. Maybe it's because the song is just so darn catchy.

Or maybe it's just that line "He takes off her dress now" that attracted me.

*Smacks head to get rid of perverted thoughts*

Funnily enough, that's the only song in the entire album Hot Fuss that caught my attention this way. After listening to the whole album, only Mr. Brightside stood out enough to make me play it over and over again.

Sure, Somebody Told Me is unbelievably catchy too, and Jenny Was a Friend of Mine is pretty nice too, but the rest just kinda BLENDED together into one horridly synthetic Duran Duran song.

That's what the album (and The Killers' style) reminded me off - Duran Duran and the 80's electronic synthesizer age.

On one song, the opening intro reminded me so much of Duran Duran that I had to check whether I was playing the right album. Sure, the songs are passably listenable, but the synthesizers just irritates the hell out of me.

Maybe that's why I like Mr. Brightside so much more than the rest of the songs in Hot Fuss. There's a lot more guitar and less synthesizing.

Yup, that's the way I like my music. More rock, less 80's. Ah well, I guess it's back to listening to Green Day and Jimmy Eat World again.

Or maybe I'll just burn a CD with ONLY Mr. Brightside on it, so I don't have to keep pressing the 'Repeat' button'.... And all I wanted was something different...

Friday, 11 March 2005

Musical blog-chain-mail fun!

I usually don't fool around with chain-letter/blogstuff, but this one is pretty fun. Poptart passed it to me, so I'll pass it around too. :)

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
I have a total of 2774 mp3 files, which comes up to a grand total of 11.0GB, the fruits of 7 years of patient downloading with a dial-up line. :)

These range from modern rock songs, 80's songs, soundtracks, weird South Park files, and a lot more. 1000+ of these are modern rock songs.

2. The CD you last bought?
The last CD I bought was three months ago - Jimmy Eat World's Futures album. I usually buy about one or two CDs every other month. I download the songs first, then if I think the album is worth buying the CD, I'll buy it. :)

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
Mr. Brightside (The Killers) - This song has been on heavy rotation in my car, because I'm trying to memorise the lyrics.

4. Write down five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Five only? oh well, if I must...

  • Iris (Goo Goo Dolls) - My nick says it all, really. One of my favorite songs of all time.
  • Don't Look Back in Anger (Oasis) - One of the band's best songs, really. I can listen to this over and over again.
  • How's It Going To Be (Third Eye Blind) - Harks back to when a period when I was really heartbroken... sigh...
  • Sweetness (Jimmy Eat World) - A soaring and uplifting song that I never get tired of screaming in the car.
  • Hoi Fut Tin Hong (Beyond) - Beyond's best song ever, and a sad reminder of the late Wong Ka Kui.

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

  • Erna - Because she loves music, and she will have a field day with this
  • The Visitor - Just to see what 'high-brow' stuff he can come up with. :)
  • Daphne - To see how many David Bowie songs she puts in the list of five songs. :)

Mini geography lesson: Ireland in a nutshell

A certain colleague of mine (Heh) recently made geographical history in one of her stories - she managed to make the Republic of Ireland part of the United Kingdom.

Aye, 'twas a big boo-boo, that.

I had a field day with Ireland-related jokes yesterday.

But jokes aside, the mistake IS a pretty common one, to tell the truth. Most of the confusion stems from the fact that Northern Ireland IS part of the UK, but the REPUBLIC of Ireland is not.

If you watch international football, you'd know that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland play under their own flags and not under the UK, and that the REPUBLIC of Ireland is NOT part of the UK.

Here's the map of Ireland, courtesy of Lonely Planet:




As you can see, Ireland may be part of the British Isles, but it's a republic on its own. Now NORTHERN Ireland, on the other hand, IS part of UK,

Ok, besides being known for Roy and Robbie Keane, Ireland has produced a whole lot of great authors and musicians. According to Lonely Planet, "if you took all the Irish writers off the university reading lists for English Literature the degree course could probably be shortened by a year."

And the list of notable Irish authors IS impressive - Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, W B Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce (who is supposedly "the most significant writer of literature in the 20th century", again, according to Lonely Planet).

Ohter notables given by Lonely Planet are JP Donleavy's The Ginger Man; Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy, Roddy Doyle's 1993 Booker Prize winner Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Patrick Macabe's "brilliantly disturbing" The Butcher Boy and anything with the word 'peat' in it written by the poet Seamus Heaney.

I've never read ANY of them, mind you, but they sound interesting. One book I HAVE read is Angela's Ashes, the book of memoirs by Frank McCourt which won the Pulitzer Prize for biographies in 1996, and is about the first nineteen years of his life as an Irish Catholic. McCourt himself was born in America, but his mother has roots in Limerick, Ireland.

Angela's Ashes was one of the most interesting books I read that year, mostly because of the quaint limerick-like way it was written. Didn't feel like a biography at all. Though it WAS a bit depressing at times. But don't bother with the follow-up, Tis'. By all accounts, it sucked.

Music-wise, who can deny that U2 is Ireland's greatest musical export? Bono and gang would eclipse any list of Irish musicians, but hard to believe that many people STILL don't even realise that they are from Ireland.

What other musicians come from Ireland? The Corrs, The Cranberries, Enya, Bob Geldof, Elvis Costello, Sinéad O'Connor... the list goes on.

Riverdance also originated from Ireland, and features traditional Irish tap-dancing. I love that show.

Other stuff that we normally associate with Ireland are:
  • The colour green
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Four-leaf clovers
  • Guinness
  • Lebrechauns
  • Luck of the Irish
  • The IRA (Irish Republican Army)

So there you have it. Ireland in a nutshell. Now there's no more excuse for you to think that it is part of the UK (I hope).

Hope I didn't make any mistakes here. Am hardly an expert in Ireland myself. But there's a whole lot more to this little country, so go check out Lonely Planet if you want something more accurate.

I can't believe I just posted an entire geography lesson on the blog. I think I shall go lie down now.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Impooving our England Through Tee-Wee

I know I'd just posted about learning a lot of stuff from TV and movies a few days back, but this news story is just too ridiculous not to post about.

Star Online: Watch more TV to learn English

Now this is just plain silly. Wouldn't it be better to encourage kids to READ more rather than spend even MORE time staring at the idiot box?

At least this ex-HM has it right:

Star Online: Ex-HM: Make time for reading in class

I may have learnt a lot from TV and Optimus Prime, but my English was 100% from reading, since an early age. My parents would ration our TV time to one hour a day (which I spent on back-to-back Transformers and M.A.S.K. episodes at 5pm everyday), and they would either chase me out of the house to play with my friends, or just ask me to read.

They would rather buy books for me than toys (which explains why I had to play Transformers with my Legos instead), and I spent more time reading than I did playing anyway.

I DO think that Malaysians HAVE benefited from the English programs on TV to a certain extent. After all, compared to countries like Japan, Thailand and Poland, where English programs are dubbed in the respective country's national language, at least a majority of Malaysians DO understand a smattering of English, most of which is probably gleaned off watching English programs on TV.

The level of English is still nothing to shout about, mind you, probably just enough for foreigners to ask directions, I think, but it's better than nothing. I always tell my foreign friends that if they come to Malaysia, they should have no problem talking in English, because even the roadside hawkers and cobblers would know what you are talking about.

Now try ordering an egg from a roadside stall in Poland without knowing any Polish, and without flapping your arms and pretending to lay an egg.

Much as I'm proud that we still have English programs on Malaysian TV, I still don't think it's sufficient to IMPROVE the level of English in Malaysia. For THAT, we'd need to go deeper than mere moving images on a square box, and venture into the dark depths of the education policies, and politics.

And I'm not touching THAT with a 60-foot remote control.

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Poster-mania!

Am going slightly poster-mad this past week. Have gotten several new movie posters, some of which are way cool.

Yup, I'm a real sucker for movie posters.

I like posters. They are glossy, pretty and downright cool. I have a whole stash of posters gleaned off magazines since I was a kid, and now I've 'graduated' to hoarding original movie posters instead. Now, I have a whole stash of movie posters at, some rare, some imported, some autographed (mostly Hong Kong movies though) and most, very cool.

The ones I get from mags, I stick them on walls. But the really precious ones (like my double-sided Tarzan teaser poster which showed Tarzan half drawn), I keep them in a nice safe place. I hope to get them framed one day, but as of now, am too broke to do so. Plus no place to hang them anyway lar.

Anyone know a good way to keep movie posters so they don't get damaged?

I've always wanted a Star Wars poster ever since I first saw the movie when I was a mere kid. Still don't have a proper original SW poster though. Sigh...

Unfortunately, I hopped on the bandwagon too late to get my hands on any original Lord of the Rings double-sided posters. Oh well. Can't have everything, right?

But as of now, am happy with my Batman Begins teaser poster... Wish I could get my paws on that Mr. And Mrs. Smith teaser twin-posters though.

BTW, check out these new posters that I'd LOVE to get my paws on:



Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Things Could Be Worse: Lessons from Pop Culture

Amid all that tension and frustrations I've been going through lately, I went and forgot one of my most trusted philosophies of life:

No matter what happens, things could always be worse.

The gist of it is, no matter how bad things may be, things could always be worse, and there is a silver lining to everything. I've preached this to friends time and again, to the extent that one got so sick of the line that she wouldn't talk to me for days.

I can't believe it actually took an Oasis song of all things to help me remember this:


Coz all of the stars are fading away
Just try not to worry you'll see them someday
Take what you need and be on your way
And stop crying your heart out...

But then again, my life has always been riddled with lessons from unlikely sources. Books, music, movies, comics, everything.

One lesson I learnt when I was young, was to always keep my eyes open and observe your surroundings. I didn't do it very well at the time, mind you, but maybe because I didn't really take it seriously. I did learn it from a comic book after all.

It's always funny how some people think that watching too much TV and movies or listening to too much rock music can 'damage our morals'. I learnt many life lessons from TV and movies.

I learnt emotion, honor and trust, and that was just from watching the Transformers. I learnt that no one is indestructible, after watching Optimus Prime die in the Transformers Movie.

I learnt language from music. I learnt to READ Cantonese and old Chinese symbols from memorizing lyrics of Cantopop songs. I learnt how to rhyme (though I still can't do it for nuts), and I learnt to express myself through words.

From books, I learnt that curiousity kills the cat (and in the case of Agatha Christie books, the story). I learnt that the world is BIG, and it's fun to be in.

Yes, I've learnt a lot of lessons from a lot of weird places. Now maybe it's time to continue that education.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to figure out what the silver lining is.

Monday, 7 March 2005

Frustrating Releases of Crabby Tensions

Things are boiling over, my cough is still as bad as ever, and I'm feeling really crabby.

I'm not nice when I'm crabby. I glare venomously at people who let their phones ring on and on without picking it up (especially those with really annoying ringtones), I snap at people who dare disturb me while I'm working, and I plain ignore anyone who ask me stupid questions.

It's time for some tension-releasing. And I need to vent a LOT of frustrations right now. And that's not only because of the moving cheese.

Most of the time, when I need to vent my frustrations, music is the way to go. It's no surprise that my CD collection is full of (as Erna would put it) angsty rock bands that have a lot of very loud and very 'scream-y' songs.

Green Day's American Idiot is back on heavy rotation in my car CD player rght now, after an absense of almost a month. And when I get sick of the umpteenth rotation of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, I'll put in that Oasis compilation I made myself some time back. Or failing that, my Nirvana compilation album.

If screaming Smells Like Teen Spirit over and over again in the car doesn't help me relieve SOME tension, nothing will.

One thing I've taken to doing right now is transforming my Transformers toys over and over again, just to keep myself occupied. It's fun, really, and it's something to do. I can't stay idle for a very long time, so I need something like Optimus Prime to manipulate while I'm thinking of something to do. Or else I might just take to swinging my Anduril around like a mad chicken, and risk lobbing off a few heads.

I need someone to talk to. But I'm a bad talker. I can't vent frustrations by talking. I never could. Ah well, blog it is then. I can 'release tension' better when I write.

Then again, I think I'll watch a movie tonight. Movies are a good way to do something yet NOT do something though. Maybe something light. But I don't feel like laughing. Maybe something heavier? I don't wanna think lar. Ok, no movie.

So, what about a book then? Well, reading is usually the last thing on my mind when I'm angry/frustrated/depressed/crabby.
I especially don't look forward to reading comics or anything funny when I'm in this state. I tried reading my new Far Side book last night, but a lot of the jokes, though funny, just went past me.
Maybe I'm just too tired too think of laughing right now. Heck, I think I don't even want to THINK right now.

Gaa, where's Optimus Prime?

The Name of the Blade

One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is the way many of the stories put a lot of stock into inanimate objects like swords, stones, jewels and so on.

I've always been obsessed with swords with names, ever since my early Lone-Wolf-reading days when I would make weapons out of Lacy and Lego blocks and pretend I was wielding the Sommerswerd.

One of the earliest weapon's I'd read of has got to be Excalibur, of course. Sword of King Arthur, which he either drew from a stone, or got it from some lady in a lake who lobbed it at him, whichever version of the tale you've heard.

Then, when I was in my Storm Riders comic craze, it was weapon-heaven. In those comics, each character had his or her own special weapon, and each weapon it's own name and special power.

And Chinese weapons were not confined to just swords, but also included sabers, spears, nunchucks, bows and arrows and even darts. The swords were also damn pretty... Just check out this sword called 'Xue Ying' (Snow Drinking) which belonged to one of the lead characters:



Cool eh? Wish I had that replica. Too bad it's sold out already.

Later on, I remember playing Diablo and Baldur's Gate, where picking up the different magical weapons during the game was one of my greatest pleasures.

Of course, some of the most famous-est of weapons have got to be those in the Lord of the Rings. There are so many of them - Sting, Andúril, Narsil, Herugrim (Theoden's sword), Glamdring (Gandalf's sword), Orcrist (Thorin Oakenshield's sword) and so on.

While the swords in the movie may not exactly be exactly as I imagined them to be when I read the books, they were still pretty cool. Cool enough for me to buy mini replicas of them. :)

Ever since I first read LOTR, I'd always wanted a replica of Andúril, Flame of the West. I mean, look at it!



And here's Sting:



Pretty pretty swords.

Me want. :-)

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

Update (6:54pm)

Before I forget again, here is a list of the weapons I think are REALLY REALLY cool, and which I'd LOVE to have a replica of. I can't help it, I'm really big on lists. :-)
  1. The Sommerswerd (From the Lone Wolf Gamebooks. Draws power from the sun, and gives you +10 on your hits. If I remember correctly, that is.)
  2. Anduril (From LOTR. Makes you King of Gondor. Oh wait, I already have this. All bow down before the King!)
  3. Xue Ying (Snow Drinker) (From the Storm Rider comics. A sabre, and has the power of cold. Brrrr...)
  4. Icingdeath (From the Forgotten Realms. One half of Drizzt Do'Urden's twin scimitars. The other one is called Twinkle, which is a crappy name, but Icingdeath is cool. :) )
  5. A Hattori Hanzo katana (From Kill Bill. HH is the name of the sword-maker in Kill Bill, and he made one for The Bride so she can kill Bill with it. Looks very cool, especially that lion emblem on the blade near the hilt)
  6. Glamdring (From LOTR. Come one, it's Gandalf's sword! Who wouldn't want it?)
  7. A Dragonlance (From Dragonlance. Would be damn long, but it's silver, shiny and kills dragons. :) )
  8. Green Destiny (From Crouching Tiger Hidden Tiger. Thanks to The Visitor for reminding me of this one.)
  9. One of the flying daggers from House of Flying Daggers

Will add more as I think of more. :-)

Friday, 4 March 2005

Book Review: Sabriel (Garth Nix)

Aha, I apologize for the somewhat cryptic post previously. It's just one of those posts where I just had to get certain frustrations out. And I'm not even talking about my increasingly violent coughing fits.

To make up for that, here's the mini review for Garth Nix's Sabriel, which I just finished around 15 minutes ago. :)

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



Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix

Synopsis:
Sabriel is the daughter of the Mage Abhorsen. Ever since she was a tiny child, she has lived outside the Wall of the Old Kingdom - far away from the uncontrolled power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead.

But now her father is missing, and Sabriel is called upon to cross back into that world to find him. Leaving the safety of the school she has known as home, Sabriel embarks upon a quest fraught with supernatural dangers, with companions she is unsure of - for nothing is as it seems within the boundary of the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life, and comes face to face with her hidden destiny...

Main Characters:
  • Sabriel - The heroine. Daughter of the Mage Abhorsen, and she has to go into the Old Kingdom and save him.
  • Mogget - A little cat, actually a Free Magic being who is bound to serve the Abhorsen.

What I liked:

  • I liked the idea of a necromancer being the good guy. Necromancers (mages that deal with the dead) are usually evil, but here, Sabriel and her father are different types of necromancers, one who banish the dead BACK into Death. Very cool.
  • I'm a real sucker for inanimate objects with names. Heh. Here, the bells that Sabriel uses each have their own names, and each with their own purpose. Makes for an intriguing read where you wonder which bell will be used when.
  • The Charter marks are cool, especially when you imagine them on the Paperwing (a sort of airplane in the Old Kingdom)
  • I also liked the different precincts of Death itself. But I shall not elaborate further on this for fear of giving away the story
  • Sabriel is a cool character - talented, with cool name, and beautiful to boot. :)
  • The 'marriage' of the 'real world' (Ancelstierre) and the Old Kingdom is one that works very well. Certainly better than the Farce that was Weis and Hickman's Darksword trilogy.

What I didn't like:

  • Touchstone. Boring token character.
  • Ending seemed a little rushed.
  • The villain not exactly very well-developed.

Summary:

Overall, I don't have much to gripe about with this book. It reads fluidly, with no problems understanding it at all. The pace is quite fast, and by the time you've reached the halfway point, you can't put it down.

It's a very cool story, especially with some very nice concepts of magic, using bells and music and all. That joining of the modern world and the fantasy one is also one that works very well.

It DID kinda reminded me of Pullman's His Dark Materials at some point... maybe it's that Sabriel/Touchstone thing...

Now to get my hands on the second book...

Oh, and if they ever make a movie out of this, I want a mini replica of the bells... :-)

The Cheese is Moving

Someone's moving the cheese.

I hate it when people move the cheese.

Why can't people leave the freaking cheese alone?

The cheese was fine where it was, why move it?

Yes, yes, I know cheese moving is inevitable.

Sure, I gotta adapt to the cheese moving, but I hate it anyway.

And I don't even particularly like cheese anyway.

Why can't it be moving yogurt?

Sheeeeeesh.

*Cough cough, hack hack*

Thursday, 3 March 2005

The Gender Genre Question

Am back at work today, despite still having a flu, cough, sore throat and a slight fever. But at least you can't fry an egg on my forehead now.

While I was lying on my bed having all those weird random thoughts yesterday, I also found time to scrutinize my books (which could be found on the bookshelves above my bed, around my room and on the floor), and somewhere between staring at that Beyonce FHM cover and looking for my barley water, I was thinking, "Would a girl's bookshelves have the same kind of books as mine?"

A quick look at my shelves revealed:
  • Rows and stacks of fantasy series', with several shelves dedicated to Pratchett, Eddings, Bradley, Hobb and Jordan.
  • One shelf stacked with miscellaneous titles, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, from local authors to Grishams and Dahl. Probably makes up about 5% of my entire collection.
  • One tiny shelf of mint Transformers comics, Far Side compilations and other graphic novels
  • Another shelf full of magazines like FHM, Empire, Q and First.

I just wonder, do the different sexes read/collect/hoard different sorts of books? Does your sex determine what sort of books you read?

I'm not sure why, but some people actually consider Fantasy and Science Fiction a 'male' genre.

Surely not.

Many of my female friends also read a lot of fantasy. I even got my girlfriend into reading fantasy when we started going out, and now, we have fights over the portrayal of characters in the LOTR books versus the movie.

I don't think that fantasy is a male-oriented genre. After all, look at all the great female fantasy authors out there - Robin Hobb, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Margaret Weis - who write great fantasy novels that can be enjoyed by everyone, not just by hot-blooded nerds lusting over scantily clad heroines.

But speaking of genre-specific novels, what about romance? Romance novels DO seem to be a 'female'-oriented genre. Most sane, straight guys would rather be caught dead, than to be seen holding a Mills & Boons novel in an LRT. Even if he secretly reads it behind closed doors (most probably to get er.. 'tips'), you won't find him openly admitting to reading a Mills & Boons novel.

I can't really expand on this train of thought right now, on account of my head feeling rather wonky today (must be the Panadol again), so I'll just leave this little post as it is now.

In the meantime, what I would REALLY like to know is, do men and women read different types of books? Do certain genres cater only to specific genders?

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

The Random Thoughts of a Feverish Blogger

Some random thoughts while I was lying pathetically in my bed, staring around my room:
  • Why does time always seem to go by so much slower when one is sick? I've been lying on my bed for god knows how long, and it's only 5pm.
  • Why are my flu pills square?
  • Why won't my Nightmare Before Christmas action figures stay on their shelf?
  • Why is my room so messy again? I just cleaned it up last week!
  • Oooooo... FHM. Beyonce on the cover. Niiiice.
  • Should I get up and watch TV?
  • Where's my barley water?
  • Maybe I'll go blog.

Sheesh. I need to get out of the house. This high fever is killing me (not literally, of course.)

BTW, who says what you blog about can't be published anywhere else? I just got THIS published in The Star today, and you read it HERE first! :)

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Trying to read when you can't read

I'm freaking sick again today. I knew I shouldn't have run around in the rain on Sunday while on assignment. Or maybe it was because I've been sleeping really late these past few days? Anyhow, I've got a bad cough and a fever, and I wanna go home. BUAAAA!

Somehow, I've never been able to read when I'm sick. My vision goes hazy, I can't concentrate on the words, and I get a headache after the first few paragraphs. I don't understand how some people can read when they have headaches or fever. I can't. Makes me wanna throw up.

Another condition in which I can't get any reading done is when I'm in a moving car or bus. I get nauseous, and again, feel like throwing up. I can't even read a newspaper in a car, let a lone a book. All the shaking and scenery whizzing past is too distracting, not to mention a little to nauseating for my senses.

But funnily enough, it doesn't apply when I'M the one driving (of course, that’s because I only read when I’m driving when I’m at a traffic light that I KNOW is gonna take a damn long time to turn green). And I can read in LRTs or trains without problems. Hmmmm. Could it be some kind of minor claustrophobia? Then again, maybe I'm just weird.

Whether or not I can read during a particular situation or place also depends on what kind of book I'm reading. If I’m reading something heavy or ‘deep’ that requires a lot of concentration (The Name of the Rose comes to mind), then I absolutely NEED to read in a place where there is not too noisy, or else it’ll be too hard to keep track of what I’m reading and I’ll skip parts. But fantasy and pulp fiction, I can read anywhere - in the toilet, in noisy cafes, at the mamak stall, in the LRT, even during a concert.

However, there is one situation where I absolutely CANNOT read, work, type, blog or do anything - when someone is looking over my shoulder. I can’t read when someone is looking over my shoulder because it feels very... intrusive. It’s as if that someone is scrutinizing me, and silently criticising what I’m writing or reading. The mere presence of someone behind me while I’m reading or working is enough to make me stop what I’m doing and do something else less subjective to criticism.

I just HATE it, and anyone who tries that will get a very violent glare that says, “Stop reading over my shoulder our I’ll break yours.”

Ok, so I’m cranky today. I’m entitled what, I AM sick after all, and the Panadol is making me sleepy. Time to sign off then before I break another shoulder...

Anyone else have situations where they absolutely CAN'T READ no matter how hard they try?