Saturday, 30 April 2005

A Second Attempt to Cross the Causeway

Toiletries - CHECK
Luggage - CHECK
Mineral water - CHECK
Singapore money - CHECK
Bus Ticket - CHECK
Book to read on bus - CHECK
Passport......... - DAMMIT!

That was what happened the last time I was supposed to go to Singapore. I left my passport with someone to get a Chinese Visa, and completely forgot that I was gonna go Singapore the next day. Boy did my larling give me an earful that day.

Anyway, I'm off to that significantly insignificant island down south again tomorrow, and this time, I've made sure that I have my PASSPORT with me.

Will be gone for a week, so the updates here will be rather sporadic, if there ARE any. :-)

Am looking forward to seeing my larling, going to Borders (a PROPER one) and going toy hunting. Might even drop by the Zoo or something just for the heck of it. :-)

Oh, and it's my birthday on Monday! YAY! :-)

Ok, lemme go through that checklist again:

PASSPORT - CHECK!!!!!
Toiletries - CHECK
Luggage - CHECK
Mineral water - CHECK
Book to read on bus - CHECK
Singapore money - CHECK
Bus Ticket........... - UH OH....

Friday, 29 April 2005

Jams, Taxes, and DON'T TOUCH ME THERE!

Being the last-minute creature that I am, I just HAD to wait until the second-last day before the deadline to file my income tax. And I'm still not sure I filed it right. Dammit.

Anyway, the jams and the time I took to find a parking space actually took me longer than the actual submitting of the form. The lines were fast-moving, lots of counters were open, and I'm pretty impressed with the LHDN for being able to cope with the the throng of last-minute creatures like yours truly.

Anyway, by the time I got back to the office, it was lunchtime, and not only did I find out that Minishorts had turned me into a Talking-Rotiboy-murdering coffee addict; I also got this message from a colleague, saying:

"Bu yau mo wo na li!"

Eh? That sounds a lot like "Don't touch me there!" in Mandarin. What did I do THIS time? I certainly didn't touch ANYBODY ANYWHERE!

Apparently, she was testing out the phrase that she got from this site: The Four Essential Travel Phrases, which is a rather useful site that reckons that there are four phrases that every traveller should know, no matter where they are in the world:
  • Where is my room?
  • Where is the beach?
  • Where is the bar?
  • Don't touch me there!
According to the site, the last phrase is of the utmost importance, particularly if you've already had answers to the first three.

On the site, you can learn the four phrases in over 310 languages plus 34 additional dialects, so you can make sure that people in Afghanistan can show you your room, and that people in Inner Mongolia won't touch you THERE (wherever 'there' is).

Personally, I found that whenever I go overseas, the first few phrases I seem to learn first always turn out to be swear words. I can currently swear in English, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Ecuadorian Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Polish, German and Russian. Can't remember the Finnish ones though. Damn.

Besides the !#$%*&! words, the other phrases I've always found useful (besides the ones already noted above) were:
  • How do you get to ______?
  • Do you speak English?
  • No, I am NOT Japanese
  • I come from Malaysia.
  • No, I'm not MALAY.
  • Airport please! Fast! Fast!
  • Can I have a receipt?
  • What am I eating?
  • One coffee, no sugar, with milk
  • Please give me one beer, cold
  • How much?
  • Where is the toilet?
  • One more beer, please
  • I'm not drunk!
  • Where am I?
  • Take me outside, I need to puke
  • Can I touch you there?

Thursday, 28 April 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blogging Universe



Just a short one, too funny NOT to share. :-)

Go download an mp3 from Comingsoon.net, which is a promo piece for the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, and is what The Guide has to say about Blogging

Comingsoon.net: Exclusive: The Hitchhiker's Guide on Blogging

Damn funny!

Also available are:

Eyeris the Weak-Minded and the Times Warehouse Sale!

If this post sounds familiar, it's because I'd written something similar to this post HERE and HERE.

Yup, I went on another book-buying frenzy at the Times Warehouse Sale again, and the damges for this first round was... jeng jeng jeng.... RM185.00!!!!

Including the RM15 i used to renew my Times Privilege Card membership, I spent a total of RM200 there on 20 books in 2 hours. And the only thing that stopped me from staying longer or buying more books was that I only had RM208.00 in my wallet. Sigh...

But never fear, the Sale will be here till May 8th...

The selection of books itself was great. I couldn't finish browsing ALL the tables of books in two hours, but what I saw was really good. The books cost mostly around RM8-15 each - RM8 for most paperbacks and RM15 for trade-paperbacks and hardbacks.

There were the usual suspects like Grishams, Clancys, Sheldons, Ludlum, Le Carre lying around, as well as a lot of Ian Rankins, Salman Rushdie, VS. Naipaul and Vikram Seth as well. I also saw Jefferey Euginedes' Middlesex and Virgin Suicides, Rani Manicka, Yan Mattel's Life of Pi (costing only RM8! I was kicking myself because I bought it in Bangkok for freaking RM20!) and Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (which I hope to grab when I go again tomorrow). And heck, even that Who Moved My Cheese book was there (All those who bought that dumb book for RM40, kick yourselves now).

Fantasy-wise, a chokeload of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, Terry Pratchett's The New Discworld Companion, Thief of Time (Hardback) & Night Watch (Paperback) Douglas Adams' Salmon of Doubt.

I even saw two copies of the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith hardback novels for RM15! I think it was because they were tattered.

I also saw Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell going for (get this) RM15!!!!! Good thing MY copy was free, or my legs would be REALLY sore from kicking myself). There were also a lot of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials books, and some of his children's books as well.

I DID kick myself when I saw Terry Brooks' The Word and The Void Omnibus for RM15 though. I bought it for freaking RM60 last time!!!!

Anyway, enough gushing. Here's a list of what I got (off the top of my head):

  1. Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie)
  2. Grimus (Salman Rushdie)
  3. Fury (Salman Rushdie)
  4. Step Across This Line (Salman Rushdie)
  5. A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth)
  6. Dance Dance Dance (Harold Murakami)
  7. Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)
  8. Serving Crazy with Curry (Amulya Malladi)
  9. The Rule of Four (Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason)
  10. The Runes of the Earth (Stephen R. Donaldson)
  11. Sophie's World (Jostein Gaarder)
  12. The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (Yann Martel)
  13. The Salmon of Doubt (Douglas Adams)
  14. Kushiel's Chosen (Jacqueline Carey)
  15. The New Discworld Companion (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Briggs)
  16. Forgotten Realms: The Cleric Quartet (R.A. Salvatore)
  17. The Sally Lockhart quartet: The Ruby in the Smoke (Phillip Pullman)
  18. The Sally Lockhart quartet: The Shadow in the North (Phillip Pullman)
  19. The Sally Lockhart quartet: The Tiger in the Well (Phillip Pullman)
  20. The Sally Lockhart quartet: The Tin Princess (Phillip Pullman)

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

Update (April 30, 12:00pm)

I went back to the sale again yesterday, and this time, showed more restraint. Still didn't stop me from picking up these seven books for a total of RM63 though...:

  1. Touching Earth (Rani Manicka)
  2. Lucky (Alice Sebold)
  3. Changing Planes (Ursula Le Guin)
  4. The Complete Tolkien Companion (J.E.A. Tyler)
  5. Clockwork (Phillip Pullman)
  6. The Broken Bridge (Phillip Pullman)
  7. The Butterfly Tattoo (Phillip Pullman)

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

An Ode to Darth Vader

Continuing my current obsession with all things Star Wars right now, I present to you a tribute to the biggest and baddest MamaFlyer in the Galactic Empire, before Lucas turned him into 1) a silly brat who can't act and dreams of space angels; and 2) silly teenager who can't act, whines about sand and molests Senators' naked backs.

The Darth Vader we ALL know and love/loathe/wanna-be is the one who crushes the throats of incompetant sub-ordinates, sounds like he has permanent asthma, and has a weird duck-like triangle mouthplate thingy going on his helmet.

I apologise in advance for the horrible rhymes. :-)

Anyway, here we go:


An Ode to the Great Darth Vader

The great Darth Vader had a saber,
Which was a freaking big red bugger,
He kept it turned off around his waist,
So the batteries would not go to waste.

The great Darth Vader loved his saber,
Even more than killing Tusken Raiders.
He used it to kill Rebel scum,
And make mince meat of Obi-Wan.

The great Darth Vader liked his saber,
For when turned on it would not waver.
He flashed it around with no remorse,
And crushed some throats with a little Force.

The great Darth Vader drew his saber
To chop the head off a Jedi sucker
He lit his sword, which grew so long,
And chopped the Jedi's little dong

The great Darth Vader polished his saber
While waiting for the evil Emperor.
He rubbed and stroked it till it gleamed,
And greased it with a little Vaseline.

The great Darth Vader lost his saber,
While mooning a rebel X-Wing fighter.
He looked for it on Tatooine,
And found it in the Cantina latrine

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

Will add more as I get more. :-) Back to work now.

Ref: See also An Ode to Gandalf the Colourful

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

The Times Warehouse Sale and a Defender of Borders!

Two bookstore-related pieces here:

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

Heads up people, the Times The Bookshop Warehouse Sale is back!

This was THE best warehouse sale last year (I spent almost RM300+ there last year), and naturally, I'm looking forward to it again.

Here are the details:

Date: 29th April - 8th May (Preview day for Times privelege card-members on 28th April)
Time: 10am - 7.00pm
Venue: 4, 2nd Floor, Jalan 13/4, Section 13, Petaling Jaya (behind Colgate-Palmolive)


Dammit, there goes my plan of saving money this month...

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

In other news, my post on Hating Borders actually got attracted some feedback from monkgypsy, someone who actually WORKS in Borders Times Square:

Hi eyeris,

I'm a staff at Borders KL and I found your blog while googling for comments on our store. I just wanna say that while the bookstore feels less cosy because of the large open space, but on the bright side, you have so much space to navigate the store in, even on crowded days.

In terms of book titles, Kinokuniya still holds the highest number (250,000) but thats including its Japanese books. Borders has 200,000 title and so does MPH 1U.

Our staffs may not know everything - but a staff who may not know the diff between sci fi and fantasy may surprise you on his knowledge of nietzsche or sylvia plath.

In any case i find my colleagues to be very friendly and eager to help customers. Seeing as that most of the floor staffs are SPM grads and this may be their first job, they have done very well so far in their training.

Anyway, as a staff I just felt I should say the management is not all cold and all about the money.. they actually encourage love for books and knowledge in our daily briefings. I have colleagues who worked for Kino and MPH before and they simply love the Borders management as compared to the other

2. Your point is taken though about the lack of cosiness in the store and the absence of comment cards. I hope you'll visit us again soon and find improvements.

comment by moongypsy 04.26.05 - 7:06 pm #


Cooooool. Good defence there. Maybe there IS hope for Borders Times Square after all. Though I still say the World of Feng Shui has to go. :-)

Check out her other comment on the post as well, which gives some insight on just how much 'freedom' a bookstore when selecting its books.

BTW, Moongypsy, DO email me personally, and maybe I can give you more feedback. :-)

Panduan Star Wars (ENG-BM-AB) yang Manyak Power Sekali

Star Wars hype is heating up, and to help people to understand the movies better, I have hereby taken it upon myself to 'educate' y'all on the finer points of the Star Wars title crawls...

Please contact writer for further lessons on AB-speak...

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

Title crawl for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope


------------------Original English Version-----------------------------

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base,
have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle,
Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star,
an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents,
Princess Leia races home aboard her starship,
custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people,and restore freedom to the galaxy...


------------------The BM translation---------------------

Pada suatu masa yang sudah kian lama dalam cakerawala yang amat jauh...
Ia merupakan suatu masa peperangan dalaman.
Kapal angkasa penentang, memukul dari satu pangkalan yang tersembunyi,
telah memenangi kemenangan pertama mereka terhadap Empayar Cakerawala yang teramat durjana.

Semasa pertempuran tersebut,
Pengintip-pengintip Tentangan berjaya mencuri rancangan-rancangan rahsia kepada senjata termuktamad Empayar, Bintang Kematian,
Suatu perhentian angkasa-lepas berkebal yang mempunyai kuasa yang mencukupi untuk memusnahkan sebuah planet.

Dikejar oleh ajen-ajen kejam Empayar,
Puteri Leia berlumba pulang di atas kapal angkas beliau,
Penyimpan pelan-pelan yang dicuri yang boleh menyelamatkan rakyatnya,
dan memulangkan kebebasan kepada cakerawala...


------------------and now, the Ah Beng version!---------------

Sudah lama-lama punya masa, dalam itu manyak jauh punya tempat besar dan gelap,
Masa itu ada dalam punya gaduh besar-besar
Itu baik punya olang punya kapal-kapal terbang pukul dali itu susah mau cali punya tempat,
Balu menang satu kali sama itu manyak-manyak jahat punya Empayar Tempat Besar dan Gelap

Masa itu gaduh-gaduh,
Itu baik punya olang dapat curik itu manyak senyap-senyap punya ploglam untuk itu Empayar manyak kuat punya pistol, Bintang Sudah Mati,
Satu manyak 'power' punya tempat rehat dalam tempat gelap-gelap besar yang boleh mampus itu bola besar.

Sambil kena kejar dali itu manyak jahat punya 'ma-cai ma-cai' Empayar,
Puteli Leeya lali balik lumah cepat cepat atas dia punya kapal terbang besar
Sambil simpan itu boleh tolong dia punya olang-olang punya itu sudah culi punya ploglam-ploglam,
Yang jugak boleh bagi balik itu Hali Merdeka sama itu tempat yang manyak besar dan gelap...

Monday, 25 April 2005

Mapping an Obsession

I've always had a fascination for maps. Whether it is real maps or atlases, or fantasy maps that look more like doodles than maps, I like poring over them and staring at them endlessly.

When I was kid, I used to sit in a nice litle sun-lit corner for hours and pore over my family's collection of atlases and encyclopedia looking for Malaysia, and marking interesting spots in the world I would like to visit one day.

I knew the tallest mountains in the world, the longest rivers, the largest lakes, and the five largest countries in the world, all in order (the order's probably changed a little now, but if I remember correctly, it should still be - Russia, Canada, China, USA, Brazil - in that order.) And I marked them all on my little personal world map.

Even though the map of Malaysia was smaller than a 50 sen coin on the atlas, I even had little dots marking Temerloh and Mentakab (the towns I grew up in), because I thought the mapmakers performed a huge injustice in leaving them out.

Damn I wish I still had that map. Don't know where it is now.

Anyway, my obsession with maps was not limited to world maps. I even made little maps of my neighborhood, complete with trees, fire hydrants, drains, street names, house numbers and even labelling each little square house as 'so-and-so's house', 'crabby neighbor', 'fierce dog' and so on. I wish I kept those maps though. Would have been great for a little trip down memory lane (and a good laugh too).

Once, I attempted to go BEYOND my neighborhood, cycling around the other tamans on 'mapping expeditions' but I soon ran out of A4 paper. Besides, it was such a hassle to draw the tiny trees and drains.

Today, I don't draw maps anymore, and though I like drawing little maps when people ask me for directions, because my drawing skills are about as good as a 5-year-old (probably even worse), most people can't understand it. Oh well...

However, I found another outlet for my love for maps - fantasy books.

Most fantasy books worth their salt would usually come with a map (though Terry Prattchet doesn't have a map of Discworld in his books), and some are even BORN from the maps that authors come up with first. David Eddings came up with his Belgariad and Mallorean books after he was doodling on a sheet of paper and er.. 'accidently' came up with a map of the world in those books.

Also, some of the best stories (to me, that is) were those with a nice map where I can actually keep track of where where the characters are or will be going.

Trust me, when it comes to fantasy stories in fantasy worlds, the maps come in VERY handy, because all the names are mostly made up, and there's sometimes so many made-up names and places that you can really lose track of where the characters really are sometimes.

But then again, it's also a lot more fun to go to cities and towns called Minas Tirith, Baldur's Gate, Sethanon, Gorthan Spit or Drasnia than just going to plain old Europe, New York or Timbuktu.

One kind of map I REALLY am not fond of, however, are street directories. I am hopeless at reading maps of the streets in KL. I know how to get around KL fine, but when it comes to following the directions on a proper street directory which has no landmarks, just street names, I inadvertantly get lost half the time. I even went half an hour reading a map upside down once. I'm THAT bad at street maps.

When I ask for directions, I latch on to landmarks more than street names. A lot easier to navigate with landmarks than street names or numbers, especially in the maze that is Petaling Jaya where the damn streets are all numbers and are usually ALL over the place.

Nevertheless, I actually symphatise with those guys who had to come up with maps of PJ and KL. The hell they must go through just figuring out how to add in the little drains and trees. What? They don't have trees or drains? What kind of stupid map is that?!?!?!

Sunday, 24 April 2005

Book Review: The Light Ages (Ian R. MacLeod)

Wow. Another book related post. I'm really getting ahead of myself here. :-)

I've finally finished a book after three long months, and I figured I'd just get the review over with while it's still fresh in my mind. And here it is:

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




Title: The Light Ages
Author: Ian R. MacLeod

Synopsis:
Aether rules the world. Aether drives the engines, the telegraphs, the very lights of London.

Through the power of aether, and through the secrets and mysteries of the guilds that wield it, England has created a mighty Industrial Age. It is a place of enchanted gardens and grimy terraces, smokestack factories and fantastic beasts. Yet in this great age of the world, Robert Borrows, the insignificant son of a Lesser Toolmaker, holds the key to the world’s future.

Raised in the Yorkshire town of Bracebridge, a place dominated by the pounding of mighty subterranean engines, Robert witnesses the dark side of aether when his mother is transformed into a changeling; less than human, terrible to see. Fleeing to London, he re-encounters the beautiful, mercurial and mysterious Anna Winters, who he first met on a trip to a strange white palace in happier times.

Roaming the vast, Brobdignagian city, all colours, smells and danger, exploring its myriad social layers, from petty criminals and revolutionaries to salon mistresses and opium dreamers, he discovers secrets that will lead him back towards the clouded hills of Bracebridge and the deepest mysteries of aether. For all is not well in England’s green and pleasant land. This Age is ending, in fire and death…


Main characters:
  • Robert Barrows: A revolutionist who was brought up in the aether-mining town of Braceridge, and tries to bring about a new Age to replace the grimy old aether-reliant one
  • Annalise, a.ka. Anna Winters: A sorta childhood friend of Roberts, who is not quite who (or what) she realy seems

What I Liked:

  • The book is set in a Victorian Age England that is far removed from the one that we know, because of the discovery of Aether. It's familiar (to those who are familiar with Victorian Age England, that is), yet different, and makes for a great premise.
  • Magic may be the central theme of the book, but it's also not the main cog in the wheel. Sure, the whole story revolves around Aether, but it remains in the background most of the time, giving it a rather mysterious feel aboutthe book, as if it's real-life fantasy.
  • The concept of magic in the book - fueled by Aether, which is mined from the ground - is intriguing, combining both fantasy and science fiction in a rather matter-of-fact way.

What I didn't Like:

  • Sometimes the story plods along some somewhat pointless paths, which to me had no objective other than to allow Robert to meet certain characters.
  • I didn't really FEEL for the characters, even Robert. They just felt somewhat aloof to me.
  • The beginning of the book which talks about Robert's past is somewhat slow.

Summary:

I can't decide whether I like this book or not. On one hand, it's a bit slow and sometimes tedious, but then, the whole premise and environment is decribed so vividly that you can't help being sucked into the world yourself.

I liked the concept of magic here, and the way it doesn't override the story, just merely providing it with a premise, and remaining, or rather, lurking in the background.

The story is slow at first, but picks up as it goes along. I had trouble with the middle part because I wasn't reading it continuously, but once I got going, the end was a breeze.

All in all, if you like your fantasy worlds to be vividly imagined, and your stories to have a fantastic yet grounded-in-real-life feel to it, then this book is good for you. If you liek a lot of fireballs and swords in your fantasy, go read Dragonlance lar.

Oh, and BTW, this book was voted one of the best SF/Fantasy books of 2003, which was why I picked it up in the first place. And the sequel to The Light Ages - The House of Storms has just been released too. Look out for that as well.

Where to get it:

When I bought it, I had to ORDER it from Kinokuniya, because not a single bookstore in KL had the book. But surprisingly, I saw it at Borders Times Square the other day.

Saturday, 23 April 2005

Happy World Book Day!!!!!

It's World Book Day today!

HORAAAY!

YAY! YAY! YAY!

*Fireworks bursting*

*Flags Waving*


Ok, I really don't know how EXACTLY one celebrates World Book Day, but this being a sorta pseudo-book blog, I figured I should at least try and make an effort. :-)

I guess the best way to celebrate World Book Day is to READ one, right? I'm proud to say that yesterday I managed to finish another 100 pages of The Light Ages, and am now on the home stretch to finishing it, which I hope to do today.

Also bought a few more books yesterday. Yes, yes, that goes against my resolutions not to buy books without finishing one first, but the temptation was too great to resist. I bought two Agatha Christies and a Roald Dahl for a massive total of.... RM13.80! Who could resist THAT?

Also managed to get my hands on the Sin City graphic novel, thanks to Erna, and finished that yesterday. Man was it good. And violent. Not for kids, this comic. Review later. :-)

Anyway, back to World Book Day. Fans of Garth Nix, head over to Kinokuniya now, because Nix wrote a short book specially for WBD, called Creature in the Case, and it costs only RM6.90! Go get it!

And as for the celebrations here on Eye on Everything, I shall revamp and update my 'Essential Reads' list that I posted AGES ago on Daphne's book blog The Places You Will Go, and share with all of you my favorite reads. It's the same list as before, with new additions in bold and underlined. :)

Now go read a book!

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

Eyeris' Essential Reads


Fantasy and SF

1) LORD OF THE RINGS (Tolkien is GOD. nuff' said)

2) Every single book by Terry Pratchett, especially the Discworld ones (If Tolkien is God, Pratchett is his funny personal assistant)

3) THE FARSEER TRILOGY, THE LIVESHIP TRADERS trilogy & THE TAWNY MAN saga, by Robin Hobb (Note: read all nine books in that order to get maximum impact)

4) The FOUNDATION series, by Isaac Asimov (IMHO, the LOTR of SF)

5) CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, by CS Lewis (WAAAAY better than JK Rowling could ever hope to become)

6) HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, by Philip Pullman (Best read after Narnia. Pullman wrote it as a riposte to Lewis' so-called 'religious self-righteousness')

7) GOOD OMENS, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (A dream team if I ever saw one)

8) DUNE, by Frank Herbert (ONLY the first book!)

9) A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series, by George R.R. Martin (Be warned, Martin is taking FOREVER to finish this series, but its damn good anyway)

10) The BELGARIAD & The MALLOREAN series', by David Eddings (It may be formulaic and plot-less, but it's oh-so-fun)

11) DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES & LEGENDS, by Weis & Hickman (Good introductions for Fantasy newbies)

12) I, ROBOT, by Isaac Asimov (Nothing like the movie, and nothing like you'd expect it to be)

13) THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams (Read it before the movie comes out, and learn to squelch!)

14) MAGICIAN, by Raymond E Feist (The rest of his Riftwar books are kinda formulaic, so I've only listed Magician)

15) SABRIEL, by Garth Nix (have yet to read LIRAEL and ABHORSEN, so I'm leaving them out for now, though I have no doubt they should be here too)

16) JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, by Susana Clarke (Damn fine alternative to usual fantasy)



Children's books

1) THE WEE FREE MEN & A HAT FULL OF SKY, by Terry Pratchett (Lovely, lovely books that adults and kids would really really love)

2) THE HOBBIT, by JRR Tolkien (It's Tolkien! Nuff' Said)

3) THE LITTLE PRINCE, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Childlike innocence and gorwn-up angst rolled into a whimsical little book)

4) The FARAWAY TREE books, by Enid Blyton (Great childhood memories start at the top of the Tree!)

5) The FIVE FIND-OUTERS books, by Enid Blyton (The best of Blyton's child detecive books)

6) THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD by Lynne Read-Banks (Ever wished your toys could coem to life?)

7) CHARLOTTE'S WEB, by EB White (A beautiful story about a spider and a pig. Actually better than it sounds here)

8) HARRY POTTER & THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, by J.K. Rowling (Probably the only Harry Potter book I would REALLY recommend, mostly because of the ending. As for the rest, might as well read them too, jsut to see what the fuss is all about)

And I don't care what anyone says, Narnia and Sabriel are FANTASY, and Harry Potter is NOT!


Others:

1) MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, by Salman Rushdie
2) CATCH 22, by Joseph Heller
3) THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, by Agatha Christie (Probably the best crime story ever written)
4) IF THIS IS A MAN, by Primo Levi
5) A TIME TO KILL, John Grisham
6) THE LOVELY BONES, by Anne Sebold
7) ANIMAL FARM, by George Orwell
8) THE L-SHAPED ROOM, by Lynne Read Banks
9) THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, by Jeffery Eugenides
10) MIDDLESEX, by Jeffery Eugenides
11) IF TOMORROW COMES, by Sidney Sheldon (So I like this. So sue me. It helped that the TV mini-seires had a hot chick playing Tracy Whitney. Plus caper books are a favourite of mine.)
12) THE BIG FOUR, by Agatha Christie
13) THE JOY LUCK CLUB, by Amy Tan
14) THE POWER OF ONE, by Bryce Courtenay
15) THE LOST CONTINENT, by Bill Bryson

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

PS: I may have left out a lot more, but as of now, this is it. Enjoy, and what are you waiting for? Go read a book!

PSS: I realise that World Book Day was actually WAAAAY back in March 5. But today is when MPH Malaysia is celebrating World Book Day, so I thought TODAY was WBD. Oh well, better late than never, I guess.

Friday, 22 April 2005

Twittering on Happifying Words

The other day, I was having tea with a few other colleagues I usually hang out with, and someone asked, 'What is your favorite word?'.

One colleague said she liked words with a 'tw' in front of them, such as 'twaddle, 'twig', and er... 'twat'. She says it rolls off the tongue nicely, and you just wanna say it over and over again. Or maybe she just happens to meet a lot twats and twits.

Another colleague said 'carousel' is a nice word, because it is such a 'happy word'. Just listening to the word being uttered gives her visions of being in a fun-fair, with happy people laughing and dancing around the carousel.

For me, I couldn't really think of a single WORD that I really really like. If there WAS one word that I can say over and over again, it's 'Rohirrim'.

It's such a majestic word, isn't it? It may not mean anything outside the context of Lord of the Rings, but somehow, it's one of those words that can invoke majesty, pride, honor, and courage all at the same time.

When Eomer screams, "Rohirrim! To the King!!!!" at the end of LOTR: The Two Towers, it's incredibly inspiring. Made me wanna jump out of my seat and charge into battle.

When King Theoden gives the order to 'Muster the Rohirrim!' in LOTR: Return of the King, it's as if he is calling forth all the courage and pride of his people, to be united under the banner and prove themselves worthy of being part of the Rohirrim.

Heck, just the mention of the word gives reminds me of the Ride of the Rohirrim scene in LOTR: ROTK, which to me is THE greatest scene in the entire trilogy, one that gives me goosebumps everytime I see it.

Other than that, I really couldn't think of any ONE WORD that I really, really like. Swear words don't count, even though I used them all the time. Made-up words are fun too. Words like 'Funner' and 'Funnest' (which I read in a David Eddings book), 'thirstifying' and 'sleepifying', and 'cheapofied' are a lot more fun to use than conventional English words, which sometimes tend to be rather boring, especially the more bombastic ones.

What catches and holds my attention more is a well-structured SENTENCE or QUOTE rather than a single WORD. I can recite certain song lyrics over and over in my mind like a mantra. The chorus to the Goo Goo Dolls' song 'Iris' comes to mind:

And I don't want the world to see me,
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand.
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.

There is just something profound I find about this particular lyric, even though it may mean something else altogether. The song meant so much to me I even use a modified version of the title as my online nickname (even though I get mistaken for a female every now and then).

Then again, now that I think about it, I guess 'Iris' does count as one of my favorite words. It gives me a slightly mysterious feeling, something that is material, but yet somehow mysterious (I don't know what that means either). Say the word to someone, and he wouldn't know what you are talking about, unless he happens to be an eye specialist.

That's the beauty of words, sentences, song, lyrics, poems and stories - that we all take what we like and understand about it. Everyone interprets something differently, depending on what your various individual personalities are like.

I mean, my friend may think 'carousel' is a happy word, but to me, it means 'tacky Genting Highlands amusement ride that cost too damn much' rather than 'happy'.

Though I DO think 'twat' IS still one of the funnest words to say.

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

Update (12:48pm): In case some of you don't know what a 'twat' is, here's the definition of the word, according to dictionary.com:

twat
n 1: a man who is a stupid incompetent fool [syn: fathead, goof, goofball, bozo, jackass, goose, cuckoo, zany] 2: obscene terms for female genitals

I was thinking of the first definition when I wrote this post. No, really.

Thursday, 21 April 2005

The Sweet Sounds of Renovation

Ahhhhhh. a long weekend. Seems like ages since I've had a nice long weekend to do whatevre I want without worrying about a story to hand in. But then again, I DO have a story to hand in, but that can wait. For now, lemme just enjoy my nice quiet time alone.

Now, if I can only get rid of that bloody construction workers next door.

I woke up this morning to the sweet somunds of jackhammers and hammers pounding on the wall next door. So it was that the first word I uttered on this supposedly lazy and quiet holiday was the bloody 'F' word.

You see, someone new is moving in next door, and just like the oh, two other former neighbors who decided to move in next door, the new tenants thought it would be nice to entertain the neighbors with the greatest hits from the "Sounds of Renovation" album, performed by the Illegal Indonesian Construction Crew Band.

Dammit. There goes my plan to sit at home and read all day (and not spend a single sen in the process). Looks like I'll have to haul my butt out of the house just to get some peace and quiet.

I'm bringing my books out (no laptop to surf Internet, because the fan died on me. Dammit), and heading to KLCC (and maybe later, 1 Utama) to lepak in my favorite coffee joint, San Francisco Coffee, and maybe drop by Kinokuniya and MPH 1U at the same time.

Ah... the pleasures of a long weekend.

Crap, the jackhammers have started again.

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

An Explanation for the Borders Hatred

Since I lambasted Borders Times Square so badly yesterday, I kinda feel obligated to explain just exactly why I lashed out so fiercely.

First of all, I HATE Berjaya Times Square. The place (As I’ve told people countless times) is like a termite warren, with haphazard layouts and escalators jutting out of nowhere, and lifts that take forever to arrive.

I also can’t stand the crowd that goes to Times Square. It’s as if the entire population of Ah Bengs and Ah Lians migrated from Sungair Wang to Times Square as soon as it opened.

More on the Borders side of things: I’ve been to Borders Singapore, and I think it’s nice. THAT was what I had in mind when I heard Borders was opening here. I thought, “Hey, if it’s like Borders Singapore, then MAYBE, just maybe I might take the effort go there more often.”

Borders Singapore is still a very commercial type of bookstore, but at least some effort was taken to make it cosy and appealing to customers. It has nice carpeting you can sit on and read (don’t need armchairs wan…), wall to wall bookshelves with every book imaginable (and which you don’t have to walk through a MILE of open space to get to), and the bloody café doesn’t take up one quarter of the store. Staff members there are a lot friendlier and helpful too.

It’s a place one can hang out, and read, or meet friends, browse, and just relax if you want. I know I go there to chill out whenever I’m in Singapore.

Kinokuniya KL also gives me the same kind of feeling. It’s less cosy than Borders Singapore, but at least it seems as though it’s full of books, rather than just open spaces. Its café is nice and comfy, and I like the graphic novels and fantasy section. It’s also a place I like to hang out.

Ditto MPH 1 Utama, which may seem empty most of the time, but still feels rather cosy to browse around in.

Last night, when I went to Borders Time Square, I just didn’t feel like staying very long. It gives out a very… cold feeling. I just didn’t want to hang out there very long. Plus the World of Feng Shui irritated me.

At one point, the three of us were just standing in the middle of the floor, chatting, not even looking at books. I can’t remember the last time I actually stood in the middle of a bookstore and did nothing.

It was a far cry from Borders Singapore, and maybe that’s what irritated me the most. That the so-called ‘biggest bookstore in the world’ was nothing more than a sham, an excuse to get into record books, and with no effort put towards making it a more bookstore-like bookstore, which the Singaporeans obviously set out to do.

Maybe when it’s had time to ‘grow into itself’ like Amelia says, then Borders Times Square just might be a cool place to hang out. Until then, I’m sticking to Kinokuniya, and MPH 1 Utama.

Tuesday, 19 April 2005

On the Borders of Popular Soullessness

I just came back from (briefly) visiting the Borders Bookstore 'grand' opening, and I have to say, I'm not impressed.

I should have had a bad feeling about it when I had to brave idiotic drivers and traffic jams on Jalan Imbi just to get to Berjaya Times Square. But nooooo... My kiasu-ness of wanting to be one of the first to see the damn store got the better of me.

Daphne was there first, and visited the place before I got there. She got a goodie bag which had a card holder, pen, T-shirt, and (get this) a RM20 gift voucher that expires TODAY. Whoopee doo. That's more than THIS gatecrasher got though. I only got a sheet of paper with the day's program. Oh well.

I wouldn't have minded it if I could actually SEE the damn place. But NOOOOO, they had to wait till the guest-of-honor (the PM's wife) arrived, gave her speech, and took a tour of the place before we could go in.

At this point, I decided to just screw it all for a lark, and go toy-hunting instead.

Nevertheless, though I didn't get to go INSIDE the store, I did manage to catch a glimpse of it from OUTSIDE the main doors on both floors. And I must say I'm hugely disappointed.

Anyone who's been to the Borders in Wheelock Place in Singapore should know that it's a rather cozy place, even if one is looking in from the outside. Piles of books, tall bookshelves, and carpeted floors, and lots of people sitting around reading.

Well, from the outside of Borders Times Square, the store looked more like a Popular bookstore than a Borders Singapore.

Sure, it LOOKS huge, and covers two floors, but the place just seems rather... soulless.

Shiny tiled floors, cheap-looking bookshelves (like the ones in most Popular bookstores) and lots of wide-open spaces BETWEEN the shelves. Biggest in the world it may be, but seriously, I think that's based on only the AREA is encompasses, NOT the amount of books it has.

I'm not too sure about the selection of books (not having good enough eyes to be able to read the titles of the books while peering in from outside the store), but I'm not getting my hopes up, since the buyer allegedly used to work for Popular.

Looks like I REALLY won't be going there anytime soon (or very often for that matter) after all.

Here's also a live update by Erna, who was walking there and talking to me on the phone while I was typing this. :)
  • BIG
  • Place looks mucho blah from the outside
  • Selection quite wide
  • Starbucks
  • LOTR bookmarks
  • Lots of wide open spaces
  • Staff very blur, thought fantasy meant the comics section
  • Fantasy lumped together with SF (I hate it when they do that)
  • Not bad kiddie section
  • Quite a big SF & fantasy section, more than MPH 1 Utama
  • Healthy selection of DVDs
  • Lots of new stuff
  • Elmo plushie
  • More empty spaces, probably less books than Kinokuniya
  • More cushy armchairs
  • Big CD section, some imported CDs
  • Layout better than MPH Midvalley

Stay tuned for more. :-)

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

Update: 11:09pm

Just came back from Borders myself, and I have one thing to say:

It SUCKS BIG-TIME.

The place is HUGE, yes, but most of it is wide open spaces, with a rather large Starbucks taking up one quarter of the first floor, and a WORLD OF FENG SHUI beside it. What kind of BOOKstore has a WORLD OF FENG SHUI in it?

The layout, as Erna mentioned earlier, IS easier to negotiate, but only because the place looks so EMPTY.

Also, the CD selection there is pathetic, according to a more musically inclined colleague. Good music books though.

One of worst boo-boos, IMHO: Lumping FANTASY and SCIENCE-FICTION under the SCIENCE FICTION label. GAAAA!

Overall, the place feels impersonal, soulless, empty, commercial, and utterly and blatantly un-bookstore-like.

As a colleague said - It's not a bookstore, it's a hypermarket for books.

It feels as though all emphasis on making it the BIGGEST bookstore in the world, with hardly a thought of what a BOOKstore actually IS all about - the BOOKS.

For God's sake, Berjaya, a good bookstore isn't about the bloody Feng shui stuff, not the bloody Starbucks, and it's certainly not about making the bookstore SPACE as big as possible, it's about the BOOKS.

I predict it will last two years, and then they will close the second floor down and move everything into the first floor.

And NO, I will NOT be going there anytime soon, if ever again.

Monday, 18 April 2005

Desperation Resolutions For Reading Recuperations

I'm desperately trying to get back on track with my reading right now, but I just can't seem to find the will and the time to actually sit down and read quietly, uninterrupted. I've been stuck on the same two books for God knows how long, and both are nowhere near the end.

Maybe it's time I did something to end this drought of non-reading.

The following are my resolutions to that end:
  • I shall hereby resolve to read at least er... two pages of my books every night before I go to sleep, and continue to do so until I finish the damn things.
  • Stop playing Championship Manager 5 until I finish at least one book.
  • For my next book, I shall read a thinner one, with less pages, and one that I can carry around easily in a backpack.
  • I shall also stop spending my spare time in front of the TV watching Cartoon Network reruns (or at least, try to read something BEFORE Samurai Jack and Justice League comes on)
  • I shall also resolve to leave one of the books in the toilet, so I can read while I'm ...er.. you-know-what-ing.
  • I shall tidy my room so I can actually FIND the books I'm supposed to be reading.

Ok, enough blogging. Read, read, read!

PS... planning to go the press launch of Borders at Times Square tomorrow. stay tuned for a review of the latest mega-bookstore in Malaysia!

Sunday, 17 April 2005

The Return of a New Hope for Revenge to Strike Back!

Star Wars.

Just the two mention of these two words is enough to evoke awe, excitement, anticipation, childhood memories, disdain, confusion, ignorance or plain disinterest, depending on what generation you come from.

In the case of The Visitor, I'm guessing it would be mostly disdain. :-P

Anyway, I grew up in the 80's, so Star Wars means a lot to me. Heck, I was BORN in the year the ORIGINAL Star Wars (Later known as Episode IV: A New Hope) was released.

I've watched all three movies countless times throughout the years (mostly due to the fact that all three movies had some kind of 'annual run' on TV2 in the past), and although I don't think as highly of them as the original movies, I still watched Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones five times each. In the cinema.

In fact, I watched AOTC twice in POLAND of all places. The first time I watched it there, the title and the famous scrolling text in the beginning all came up in POLISH, and I was literally shaking with fear (and cold, actually) that I'd accidently bought tickets to the Polish-dubbed version. You can imagine my relieve when Amidala came on screen and started speaking English.

When the original three movies were rereleased in 1997 as 'Special Editions', I was one of the first to drool in anticipation, because it would fulfill my dream of watching the movies on the BIG SCREEN (which obvisouly I could not, back when they first came out, being a baby and all that).

My favorite Star Wars movie has got to be Empire Strikes Back, mostly because of the Millenium Falcon chase through the asteroid field, and the scene where Darth Vader fights Luke Skywalker and says THAT immortal line (still one of the best twists ever in a movie, IMHO).

To tell the truth, although I was happy with their final battle scenes, I was mostly disappointed with the first two prequels, mostly because of the stupid dialogue, idiotic 'Sound of Music' moments, lousy acting, and Jar Jar Binks. So I wasn't exactly holding my breath in anticipation of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Neither did I think I could EVER get my hopes up again, especially after the trauma of hearing dialogue like "I don't like sand" and "Are you an angel?" from the character who would be biggest and baddest (supposedly) villain in the Empire.

Well, that didn't happen. Despite all my reservations about ever getting hyped about Star Wars again, I got sucked back into the Dark Side.

Right now, I'm getting all caught up in the Star Wars hype again. Mostly because the past few weeks have been pretty Star-Wars-y days for me, especially since I'm working on a story on Star Wars, and I've been hunting (somewhat) for the latest action figures all over KL. (Actually, I'd been looking most of all for the Darth Vader action figure, and I finally found one yesterday.)

I'm also currently watching the entire Volume I of Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network as I'm typing this, and I can't wait for the second Volume to start next Monday.

That cartoon (which consists of short 10 minute Samurai-Jack-like cartoons that run daily on Cartoon Network) is supposed to be the bridge between Episode II and Episode III, and besides the cool animation (hey, it's made by the creators of Samurai Jack), it also features a lot of cool new characters (some which might be in ROTS), and some very cool concepts.

In short, the perfect between-movie filler for a Star Wars fan.

Before the Lord of the Rings movies came out, I used to think no other movies other than Star Wars could evoke the same kind of wide-eyed wonder (and the goosebumps) I get when I see the Star Wars logo appear on-screen, or when the opening music hits.

If it wasn't for Lord of the Rings, I'd have bought almost every single merchandise with the Star Wars logo on it (as it turns out, I bought everything with the LOTR logo on it instead).

I still collect some Star Wars stuff here and there, mostly some action figures, posters, magazines covers, and other assorted stuff. And I still wish I had enough money to buy a proper lightsabre.

These past few days, I've been getting caught up in the hype again, and I'm thinking of Star Wars left right and center. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm getting more and more excited about the new movie with each passing day.

ROTS may be a great movie, or it may suck really badly, but it IS going to be the FINAL Star Wars movie EVER, and if THAT doesn't make it worth watching over and over again, then nothing will.

Anyone who tries to throw a damper on my enthusiasm, or scoffs at the new movie will find out just how disturbing I find your lack of faith is...

To everyone else: It's Star Wars season again, so get your lightsabers out, hit the cantinas, feel the Force, and get ready to experience the Revenge of the Sith on May 19 2005!

Semoga Kuasa bersama anda!

Friday, 15 April 2005

My Not-Very-Fast and the Not-Too-Furious Ond Civic

I know next to nothing about cars. Nothing. Zilch. Yie-lek.

Ok, I DO know how to DRIVE one (very fast too), how the engine works (sort-of), when the car breaks down (quite often actually), and most importantly, how to side-park a Wira in a Kancil-sized parking lot.

I now drive a 10-year-old Proton Wira I inherited from my mom, and before that I drove a 25 year old first generation Honda Civic that cost RM5000 at a secondhand car-mart and more than RM10,000 in repairs throughout the next 8 years I had it. Thank god for scholarships.

I still remember eight years ago when my father and I went to the second hand car ‘market’ to look for a car. At the time, I was stuck in UPM’s Serdang campus with naught but a bicycle to get me around. This pretty much ruled out any excursions outside a 1km radius of Serdang.

As we strolled along among the Proton Wiras, Honda Civics and even the odd Mercedes Benz that were parked in the car market, I would point hopefully at a certain car, hoping my dad would get the hint. Nevertheless, his eye did rest on a Honda Civic - a first generation Honda Civic, to be exact.

It was a tiny, white Honda Civic that looked as if it might fall apart anytime. One quarter of the rearview mirror had fallen off, the ‘gostan’ gear was almost impossible to enter without trying at least a few times, and the cushion stuffing in the passenger seats were spilling out. And most memorably, the ‘H’ and ‘A’ from the ‘Honda’ logo at the back had fallen off, so instead of a Honda Civic, I owned an Ond Civic instead. A friend used to call it my Ond, and I’d referred to it as ‘the Ond’ ever since.

At the same time, the car had a 1.5 liter engine that enabled me to overtake Proton Wiras and even BMWs when going up a steep hill.

Perhaps the only problem I had with the car was its constant need for repairs. We have taken it to the mechanic so many times that I reckon the mechanic probably could have survived solely on the business my car gave them. In fact, the mechanic became so familiar with the Ond that whenever we met, he would ask about the car.

All those years of driving my little Ond also taught me how to drive smart instead of driving fast. Sometimes, while I was pottering my way happily on the ‘slow’ lane, faster cars would whiz past me impatiently, only to get stuck in a jam up ahead, and I’d end up either ahead of him, or just right behind him. This sort of situations taught me that it in KL, it doesn’t matter how fast you drive, you’d get stuck in jams anyway. Even now, when driving a faster car, I’d still prefer to take it easy.

Of course, I’ve never been the sort of conform to the masses. While others would be using Nokia phones, I’d refuse profusely to even touch them. And while others would buy Kancils and Protons, I refused to even think about giving up my little Ond.

I had to give up that little car last year though.

No, I didn’t crash it into a Berhenti sign. Neither was it seized by the police for having too many illegal modifications.

I merely gave it away to my cousin in TAR college, since it could no longer take me on the 30-minute journey from my home to the office without giving me a few stalls, and sounding like a full-blown percussion band on the HIGHWAY.

I drive a Proton Wira now, and even though it is a lot more consistent and stable than my Ond, and does not have the tendency to cough up a cloud of black smoke every time I start the engine, I still miss my Ond.

Anyway I DO know (slightly) about cars. At least enough about MY cars. What I DON'T know about are the OTHER cars on the road, what models they are, what series there are, what speed, what gear, and how many wheels they have.

Anyway, when you've just spent the last few days writing stories about a movie on cars, you tend to pick up some stuff here and there. Now much, mind you. But enough to write the stories without really knowing what I'm talking about (which I'm doing now...).

I look at a nice car, and I think, 'nice car'. I don't know how powerful the engine is, I don't know what year it was made, and I certainly don't know how much it cost. All I know is perhaps - 'Ooo, it's nice'; or 'Oooo, a new BMW'; or 'Oooo, that would make a cool Transformer."

Speaking of which, I only recently knew slightly more about cars because the Transformers manufacturers came up with a series of robots that transformed into REAL cars like the Mustang GT, the Dodge Viper, the Jeep Wrangler, the Chevy Corvette, the Subaru Impreza and my personal favorite - the Mazda RX8. How cool is THAT!?!?!

MY dream car? The new Volkswagen Beetle. Yes, I know it's very feminine, but it... just... so... CUTE! And besides, I have a history with little cute cars, so I like those better than big sedans. Not Kancils though. I don't like those. I think those are road pests. No offense to people who HAVE Kancils though. :P

And movies about cars? The Fast and the Furious was cool (made me wanna jump in my little Ond and take corners at er... 40km/hour); The Italian Job was SUPER cool (the old Michael Caine one, not the crappy Mark "most uncharismatic lead actor ever" Wahlberg version.), and BY GOD, the Batmobile in Tim Burton's Batman movies are cool. Oh, and what about that Delorean in Back to the Future eh, eh, eh?

This year, Initial D, about 'drifting' and street/hill racing in Japan will be coming out, starring Jay Chou and Edison Chen. Should be pretty cool actually, since I HAVE read some of the manga before, and the directors themselves said the movie will be as close to the comics as possible.

That movie will be out in July, and I just got the urge to watch The Italian Job again, so I think I shall go get the DVD and watch them blow the bloody door up again.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

Gratitude of a Read Blogger

When I finally started a blog in June last year, I didn't really expect anyone to read it. I just thought it was a good way to write stuff that I couldn't or just don't feel like writing about in the course of my work.

The problem with writing for a living, and blogging at the same time is what to write so that the two don't clash. I decided to make this a book blog initially, because I was inspired by Daphne and Liz Tai's book blogs, and since I don't usually write about books or movies at work, there was less chance of the blog clashing with my work.

I chose the name 'Eye on Everything' for want of a catchier name, and because I wanted something with my nick 'Eyeris' in it. (As for the reason behind the nick, it's because I like the song Iris, and I changed the 'I' to 'Eye' to add a 'cool factor', and so people don't mistake me for a girl. Didn't work too well though.)

Well, EoE sure ain't a book blog now. Wait, it still is actually, but I just tend to branch out to other things now. Including a lot of nonsense too.

I usually take about 20-30 minutes on average to come up with a post, and most of them are conceived when I'm too tired of writing about saving trees or another Taiwanese singer, and just want to write aimlessly for a while. Which explains why there tends to be a lot of spelling errors in my posts.

How I come up with topics is easy. I just write whatever I am thinking of at the time. No editing (besides some sentence structuring and rearranging of paragraphs), no cracking my brain to come up with a post idea, and definitely no wondering whether people will like what I'm posting. (Ok, maybe I DO care sometimes. :P )

After all, anyway, like I said, I didn't really expect anyone to read the blog anyway, and so I just happily blogged away without a care in the world.

Fast forward to now, and when I checked my SiteMeter stats today , I saw 6100 Visits in total, and 9292 Page Views in total. Checking my IpStats link, I found 5600 total unique views.

I caught myself wondering, " Wow, people actually reading the blog! I wonder why..."

Well, there's two more months to the first anniversary of this blog, and I must say, I'm surprised I got this far in the first place.

Thanks especially to some of you guys who have been reading the blog since the beginning, when I was just a rambling idiot talking about how much I hate Robert Jordan for milking the Wheel of Time.

Thanks to the regulars who have been dropping by, and making me feel like being part of a little family. :-)

I've actually played around with the idea of having a little gathering somewhere in KL with you guys (the regulars), just to be able to place a name to the nick. Wonder whether anyone would turn up, besides Erna, of course. The Visitor is probably too proud of his secret identity to show up. Plus he doesn't want to ruin his Afro.

Thanks for all the comments, which are my favorite part of checking the blog every morning.

To everyone who has been reading EoE, thanks for dropping by. :-)

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

PS: In case this sends out the wrong message, no, nothing is happening to Eye on Everything. :-) Just writing what popped into my mind at this time, as usual, and been wanting to write about the blog for a long time now, and to thank you guys for actually putting up with my spelling mistakes and inane How-To guides. :-)

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

A Diary of Adolescent Silliness

I used to keep a diary when I was in school. Not the online type, but the ones you actually WRITE (not type) into a nice little book that no one is supposed to read (but will inadvertently be read by SOMEONE at some point anyway).

I used a hardcover exercise book, and in it, I wrote silly stuff about which girl looked at me, and which girl I thought might like me. I wrote lots of mushy stuff about my first love, and my crushes and how my heart would beat slightly faster when I saw them or I got a letter in the postbox from her.

The diary lasted all of two YEARs, went through THREE of those thick exercise books, and the funny thing was, I wrote all that in Chinese, a language that I've never been able to write well with, despite being in a Chinese primary school, and actually taking passing the subject (barely) in my SPM (the result of a life-or-death choice between taking Chinese or Economics. I chose Chinese because the teacher was cute.).

I 'honed' my Chinese writing skills with that diary (besides reading Hong Kong comics, and memorizing Jacky Cheung lyrics). Didn't make the entries less adolescent though.

I'd write long-winded entries about her new haircut (did she get it done because she heard me say I liked short haired girls?), about how her letter came one week late, and some frankly embarrassing ones that consisted of nothing but her name written over and over again.

I don't know when I stopped, but I think I discovered Championship Manager at the same time. :-)

Anyway, I found my old diary recently, after years of being buried under some rubble (otherwise known as old secondary textbooks), and while looking through it, I kept muttering to myself, "WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!?!"

Anyway, those days are gone now. I'm smarter now (RIGHT), not so mushy (much), I can express myself better (most of the time anyway), and I definitely know better than to write down all my personal thoughts (in Chinese) in an exercise book that can't be read by anyone.

I mean, why keep it to yourself? Blog it lar!! Hehe.

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

This post was inspired by this here blog: That Diary Girl, because the entries there made me think of my childhood days, my incredibly moronic diary, and all the stupid, stupid things I did then. :-)

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

The Shanghai Experience: The Good, The Bad, and The Plain Weird

Just got back from Shanghai last night, and boy am I tired. And I only had two beers on the plane. Darn it.

Anyway, I've now got tons of deadlines to meet as a result of my mucking around Shanghai, so I'll keep this short. Heck, I'll use point form to explain what Shanghai was like.

The Good:

  • Well, the weather wasn't hot...

The Bad:

  • I underestimated the coldness of the weather in Shanghai (even though I checked CNN first), and decided not to bring a warm jacket. The wind and rain was so cold that my ear almost fell off.
  • Lots of spitting going around. Spit missiles were flying left right and centre, and one nearly hit my shoes. EWWWWW.
  • Lot's of shouting everywhere too. And fighting, literally. I saw a guy picking a fight with another guy just because he didn't like the tone the other guy used. And this happened more than once.
  • Lots of rude shopkeepers with ZERO manners and ZERO sense of service. It got so bad that the first POLITE shopkeeper we ran into, we took pictures of her.

and the Plain Weird

  • Why use steel fences, plastic barriers and ribbons when you can use human beings? At the press conference I went to, instead of the usual barricades, the organisers had rows of er... policemen (I think) just standing in a row in front of the stage (or wherever they did not want people to go into). And to avoid blocking the view of the stage, they sat cross-legged (in a row) in front of the stage. Words can't describe how strange this was. I'll post a photo later. :-)

Update: Here's the picture of the guards sitting in front of the stage. :-)

  • Glasses Monopolized. More on this in pictures later. :-)

(Update: And here's what I'm talking about)

The Chinese words actually mean 'Glasses Specialists', but obviously someone checked a dictionary...

I also saw this er... 'sexy' billboard in the city.

That has got to be the most er... naked Ginseng root I have ever seen. :)

Well. that's about it. That pretty much sums up my trip. :-) Regular blog transmission resumes in the next post. :-)

Friday, 8 April 2005

A Tale of Two (Chinese) Cities

I don't like going to China. The first time I went there was two years ago when I went to Beijing for an assignment.

I HATED the place. The people were so bad-mannered and inconsiderate, and when you stand at the Tiananmen Square, you see nothing but people handing out flyers and leaflets. No, 'handing' out is the wrong word. SHOVING it in your face is more like it.

And don't get me started on the shouting, spitting, public toilets and the food.

Althoug the Forbidden Palace and what not WERE quite nice to visit, I came away from that maiden trip to China with a horrible first impression.

The second time I visited the country, I went to Shanghai.

Now, Shanghai is a lot nicer than Beijing. The atmosphere is a lot more cosmopoilitan and modern than Beijing (which seemed more like a REALLY BIG rural kampung than a city). Walking around the city, the buildings reminded me of a European city rather than one in China.

And of course, the legendary 'The Bund' was just beautiful. Made you just wanna start singing the theme song from that famous TV serial - 'LOng Pan! LOng Lau!'!!!

Even the people in Shanghai seemed a lot more civilised. Not so much shouting, not so much spitting, and a lot of 'ang-mohs' walking around. No wonder someone once wrote that Shanghai is THE city to visit in China.

Anyway, as many of you may have already guessed, I'm talking about China now because I'm off to Shanghai again tomorrow morning, and only coming back on Monday. And this time I'm not bringing my laptop, so there will be no Shanghai Chronicles this time around. :-)

Till then, zai jian!

*Yawn* Gah.

Gah, it's too early.
Need more Nescafe.
Nestum oatmeal sucks.

Anyway. yesterday was a slightly more 'bookish' day than usual. Visited Daphne's house to see her baby daughter I-Shan (I refused to hold I-Shan, because I have a tendency to drop things...) and went for a 'tour' of her family's book and CD collection.

While the book shelves were just about as full as mine (though with a waaaay more diversed selection. Mine are mostly fantasy), my own measly little CD collection is NOWHERE near theirs...

Which reminds me, I need to sort out my bookshelves too... hmmm...

After Daphne's house, I popped by PayLess in Ampang Point and grabbed two cheap Pratchetts books (hard to believe, but there ARE Pratchetts that I still don't own) - Only You Can Save The World (a non-Discworld book), and The Light Fantastic (the second Discworld book, I'd read this somewhere and never bothered buying it).

Pretty good book day, I should say. Now, back to work, back to work.

Gah, it's too early.

*Yawn...*

Thursday, 7 April 2005

My Graphic Novel Unaddiction

It's been a while since my last book review. Which goes to show how many books I've finished these last two months. Heck, I haven't even updated my Books I Am Reading Now list, because quite frankly, I haven't finished either one, and I haven't started any new ones either.

What I HAVE read thus far is a couple of graphic novels that a colleague lent me, and a couple more I bought recently; all of which involves a certain pointy-eared hero who doesn't talk much, but is terribly good at fighting (No, not Orlando 'Nancing-Elf' Bloom) - Orang Kelawar, a.k.a. Batman.

I shall not do a proper book review here, mainly because I'm too lazy to think of silly things to say in those categories I made up myself. I just wanna talk about comics, and graphic novels I have read in particular.

For one, I think graphic novels (for simplicity's sake and so I don't have to waste time typing it over and over again, lets' just call them GNs, shall we?) are incredibly expensive things. Some may cost around RM30-40 while others can go up to almost RM100 or more.

It's ridiculous, I tell you.

True, books are not that cheap either, but GNs are particularly costly to me, especially when you take into account how quickly you can finish on GN as opposed to how long it takes to finish a book (unless you're Erna of course, who finished six books in one weekend. What a waste. More on this next time).

And you can't get good GNs at PayLess either. The chances of you finding a first edition Rushdie or Asimov at a second-hand bookstore would actually be a lot higher than your chances of finding a SINGLE good GN.

Anyway, I only recently started buying GNs, starting out with DC Comics' Kingdom Come trade-paperback. the art was superb, the story was great, and it cost me... er.. RM65.

Ouch.

The only other GNs I have on my bookshelves are some Transformers trade-paperbacks, and the second volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which was a waste of money, IMHO).

Nevertheless, the best ones I have so far has got to be the two Batman: Hush I have. I bought volume one in that pathetic MPH warehouse sale a while ago, and I only just bought and read the second one two weeks ago. Now THESE I don't regret buying.

Batman: Hush not only convinced me finally that Batman RULES (I'd previously wondered what the big deal was about Western comic superheroes), but also made me wish for more of the same. Fortunately for me (and my wallet), the Batman:Hush series ended long time ago. Whew.

Anyway, that's about the only GNs I've read so far. I'm not much of a Western comic person you see. I'm currently struggling through the Batman & Dracula series, which frankly did not captivate me as much as Hush did.

I've been recommended several other GNs as well, and one I really want (and according to some people, SHOULD) to get down to reading is Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. But no money to buy. Sigh...

Have also bee flirting with the idea of buying Frank Miller's Sin City series, because the movie hype has pique my curiousity. But when I decided to buy them, the first book in the series had sold out at Kinokuniya. Oh well...

However, I still think GNs cost too much, and so, until I strike the lottery or take over my company, I think I shall stick to haunting PayLess and buying books instead...

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

The Eyeris Eat-Reading Technique

Yup, another silly How-To post. This blog is fast becoming the most pointless self-help blog ever seen. :-)

I always bring a book to restaurants, especially when I'm eating alone; because I hate the restlessness of just sitting around staring into space while waiting for the food to arrive.

However, when the food DOES arrive, I'm also reluctant to put down the book and concentrate on eating. So, I've perfected my own technique for reading books while eating.

Depending on what you're eating you can either eat while holding the book with one hand, or place the book on the table and read it while using both hands to eat. If eating noodles and using chopsticks, then it's easy. Chopsticks are great read-eating cutlery, because you can use only one hand and the other hand is free to hold the book.

However, if you have to use a pair of cutlery, ie. a fork and a spoon or a knife, then it gets trickier.

If your book is relatively thin, then you can tuck one end of the book under one of your plates, and use your handphone as a paperweight to make the book stay open. That way, you don't need to hold the book, and only need to free your hand to turn the pages (or to move the handphone aside when it blocks the passage you are reading)

But if the book is relatively thick and unwieldy (once again, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel comes to mind), then my advice its to put it on your lap, still using your handphone as a paperweight, and read it with your head bowed.

You'll look funny though, cos' people will be wondering why you keep checking out your crotch.

Of course, when you are reading a newspaper or a magazine, then you shouldn't have a problem. Just put it beside or in front of your dishes and read on. Well, unless the table is too small or the newspaper is a broadsheet type that just gets in the way of everything (in which case, switch to a tabloid type paper lar. Hehe), that is.

Some important rules to remember when eat-reading:

  • It's rude to read if there is someone else at the table.
  • When using handphone as paperwight, make sure it doesn't get swiped off the table.
  • One can't be too paranoid about stains. A few curry stains here and there are ok, but don't drench the whole book in dahl lar.
  • That said, one sure also make sure that you DON'T READ if you're eating with your hands!
  • Also, make sure table is clean before you put the book on the table. Don't want your RM89.90 first edition hardcover to get an oily book cover, do you?
  • If reading a funny book, make sure you don't spray the person seated at the table in front of you with food when you laugh out loud.

There you have it, the one and only Eyeris Eat-Reading Technique. And as usual, the Eyeris Disclaimer:

  1. The above technique has been perfected after years of practise (and countless curry stained books), and should not be tried by anyone without professional supervision.
  2. Eat-Read at your own risk. Eyeris is not responsible for any curry stains or dahl-drenched books that you suffer while trying out this technique.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

How to GAAAAA! in Style: An Expert Guide

The Visitor likes to make fun of the expressions I use in my posts.

For instance, he keeps going 'GAAAAA!' at me in the wrong tone, sounding more like a half-dead chicken's mating call than a cry of exasperation/shock/desperation (which is what it's SUPPOSED to be).

You're supposed to go 'G-AAAAAA!'. with emphasis on the 'G' in front, and then an extended 'AAAAA' in the end which ends with a high 'AA!'

The Visitor goes 'Gaa-A-a..', starting with a low 'G' and goes up one tone and then goes DOWN again. It sounds.... wrong. Something like a foreigner trying out the Malaysian 'Lah'.

anyway, in case anyone was wondering where I got that expression from, it's from Dilbert. Yup, that popular office-based comic strip by Scott Adams. His characters use 'GAA!' or 'GAH!' when they are surprised, or exasperated.

Another expression I picked up from comic strips is 'Ebeh...'. I got it from User Friendly, and it's used when you are feeling sickly, disgusted, or just got squashed by a falling satellite dish.

The other day I was playing pool, and one time my opponent potted the cue ball, and I went 'OLE!'. After that, I used that expression everytime he fouled. I don't know why. It just stuck in my head, and I couldn't get it out. But it was fun because it irritated my opponent to no end.

I think I caught the 'Ole' bug from downloading and watching that Nike commercial where Brazil and Portugal players were playing around in the tunnel before a match. It's hilarious, and the sarcastic way Luis Figo said 'Ole' to Ronaldo after nutmeg-ing (that's putting the ball through the other guy's legs, for all non-footy fans) Ronaldo just stuck in my head that day. Sigh...

Other expressions I like to use when I'm writing that I've picked up here and there are:

GYAHAHA! and KYAHAHA!
A laugh used to express superiority, one-up-ability, or extreme moronism. I picked this up after playing Final Fantasy VII for two weeks non-stop.

Yer Gods!
Picked up from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. The Ankh-Morpork Police Commander-in-chief Samuel Vimes says this a lot. Used this when you wanna express disbelief at something, or at a very lame joke.

Pah!
Another one I picked up from Dilbert (or more specifically, Dogbert), though I know it's been used elsewhere as well. Used to express scorn, and best used when accompanied by a hand waving dismissively at the person the 'Pah!' is directed to.

Ptui!
Used to show the action of spitting. Best used with a 'Pah!'.

Good Grief!
Picked up from Peanuts. Best used when you wanna swear but can't use a stronger word for fear of offending your mother-in-law.

Uwek!
Picked up from Gila-Gila. Used to show that one is vomiting. For best effect, use it with 'Pah' and 'Ptui', as in 'PAH! PTUI! UWEK!' to show that you are REALLY REALLY disgusted at something. Or that you are just plain rude.

WOOHOO!
Used to express elation, awe or extreme happiness. Can't quite remember where I picked this up from, but one of my favorite uses of this expression was after I watched The Scorpion King, and the only thing good about it was Kelly 'WOO-HU!'.

AIE!
Picked this up from South Park, or more specificaly, Eric Cartman. Used when someone is talking bad or teasing you, and you wanna show that you're irritated. When using it, do it with your eyes squinted shut and mouth turned down. Can be used with any number of assorted insults/retorts.

Will add more if I think of more later. :-)

Monday, 4 April 2005

The Yellow Chicken and The Fraidy Cat

I've never been really fond of watching horror movies.

Call me chicken if you'd like, but I just don't like watching horror films. I can count on one hand the number of horror films I've actually watch.

I've not seen Psycho, Poltergeist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Ring, The Exorcist, The Grudge, The Phone, The Rice Cooker or The Pair of Socks. Nope. Not a single one.
I've actually watched more CHINESE horror flicks than EHollywood ones, though not the newer ones like The Eye and so on. I used to love the original Mr. Vampire movies, jumping vampires and all.

I admit I DO get scared when I watch horror films. Especially when it's the psychological type of scare. Not those BOO!-a-second cheap thrills where a shadow passes the screen suddenly and it turns out to be just a cat. Those can give you a scare, true, but they also make you wanna throw your cinema seat at the screen in disgust.

What scares me even more during a ghost movie is the IDEA of a ghost being around. I remember watching The Haunting (which was crap, BTW), and the parts that scared me the most were not the ghosts, but the parts where the sun was setting, because everyone knows that ghosts only come out at night.

Some people (like The Visitor, for instance) just LOVE watching horror films, and some people actually go watch them just for the scares. Not me. I'm scared enough of REAL LIFE.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here are some of the movies that scared me the most, and since I haven't seen THAT many horror movies, I'm not counting just horror movies:


The Sixth Sense:

After watching this movie, I was haunted by the thought of ghosts all around me. I couldn't bear to look at an empty corridor in case I saw a few corpses hanging there.

The Village:
Another M. Night Shyamalam movie. Though it wasn't exactly a horror film, and not really that scary either, but Shyamalan managed to make the movie's atmosphere both chilling and foreboding. When the monsters come out, you DO get scared, even though they look stupid.

Alien:
Chest-Burster. Final Scene. Nuff' said.

Mr. Vampire
Though it didn't scare me much, I just love the idea of Chinese vampires hopping around like jackrabbits, and vampires being stopped by a piece of yellow paper stuck on their forehead. Wacky, but incredibly Chinese.

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd:
What scared me most about this movie was not the fact that it was so un-funny I almost cried halfway through the movie; but that the ENTIRE CINEMA was laughing at the bathroom scene with the chocolate/shit.

Friday, 1 April 2005

Leo Moves the Cheese from Paris to Windsor

The other day, Erna and I were at Kinokuniya, when we saw this book:



PARIS HILTON
Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose

Do we REALLY need an autobiography by Paris Hilton? Do we need to know what goes on in Paris Hilton's life? Do we need to know how much money she spends everyday? Do we really need to know what she thinks of that infamous video that got out? (Wait. I'll have to say yes to that last one.)

That book's a joke, I tell you. I wonder who actually BUYS books like that...

Then again, I'm currently reading The Windsor Knot, a book about the Prince Charles-Camillia-Diana triangle. Not that I bought it, mind you, I'm reading it because I'm reviewing it.

Sigh, the things I do for extra money.

Oh well, since it's April's Fool's Day, I shall dedicate this post to the stupidest and sillest books I've ever seen or read. Not to mention the most pointless ones.

Here are some of them, in no particular order:

Travels (Michael Chrichton)
The book that put me off memoirs and biographies for a LONG LONG time. I have yet to read another Crichton book since.

Who Moved My Cheese? (Spencer Johnson)
While many people actually SWEAR by the mantras given in this self-help book, I count this as one of the silliest and cheesiest (pun unashamedly intendedly) book I have ever read. After all, everything preached in this book, I learned in kindergarden. Including how to flush.

Leonardo Di Caprio : An illustrated story
I actually saw this in a sale once. Alongside 'biographies' of the All-Saints, Backstreet Boys, and *shudder* 911.

Clear and Present Danger (Tom Clancy)
Before any rabid Clancy fans start hentaming me, hear me out. I distainctly remember reading this book, and coming to a chapter where Clancy describes a character from his childhood to his career achivements, and then killing him off in the next chapter.

Another thing I can't stand about Clancy is his ability to bore me to tears with long and languid descriptions of tanks, guns and military machinary, some supposedly so secret that one wonders what it's doing in one of HIS books. If you like him, fine. But I personally can't stand him.

A New Spring (Robert Jordan)
What's a prequel to one of the best-selling fantasy series doing in this list? Precisely because it is a PREQUEL to a series that has not even been FINISHED yet! If Jordan had the time to write this, SURELY he could have finished the damn series by now????

Honourary mentions:
  • How to Quit Golf (I bet a book on how to quit blogging would sell better than THIS one)
  • An Interview with JK. Rowling (Another book I don't really need to read)
  • The Da Vinci Code: Special Ilustrated Edition (This smacks of the worst case of milking a product for all it's worth)

Attack of the Mini Plastic Dragons

I've posted about dragons HERE before, so I'm not gonna go through the entire thing again. But anyway, like Erna, I also bought myself a bunch of dragons last night, plastic 6" ones, that is.

I'm a real sucker for cool action figures, and these dragons are some of the coolest I've seen in ages. Check out this pix of two of the five I bought:



These two are my favorites by far, because they are everything I think a dragon should be - majestic, fearsome, and er... scaly.

The white one is supposed to be a Fire Clan Dragon, while the red one is a Sorceror's Clan Dragon. I especially like the latter because he reminds me of Smaug from The Hobbit.

Erna likes the Water Clan Dragon, but I'm not as impressed with it as these two, mostly because it looks like a tadpole more than a dragon. There IS another dragon in the series, the Eternal Clan Dragon, but THAT one looks like a chicken, so I'm leaving it in the box.

Another favorite of mine is the Komodo Clan Dragon whom Aragorn is fighting here: :-)



If anything, I always wished that Middle-Earth had more dragons, rather than just Smaug, and a couple of ugly Fell-Beasts. But now that I have THESE babies, I can pose them next to my action figures and recreate Middle-Earth with DRAGONS!

Now all I gotta do is figure out where to KEEP the damn things...

Stupid, stupid, stupid...

Due to er.. certain.. er.. unfortunate circumstances, I did not manage to go to Singapore today.

I had certain duties to attend to. No, no, I had work to do! Yes, that's it.

Ok, ok, here's the REAL story.

I was going out of the house to go to the bus stand, when I realised something.

MY PASSPORT! I DON'T HAVE MY PASSPORT! ARGH!!!

You see, yesterday, I had to hand my passport in to get a China Visa done, and I completely forgot that I needed it to go to Singapore.

So there I was, all packed and ready to go, but with no passport.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

SIIIIIGH...

And so here I am, still in KL, blogging as usual.

What a day, what a day.