Tuesday, 28 February 2006

The Bali High: Chickens, Ducks, Pigs & Fishes

That's it. Tomorrow I'm going to a dentist, and I'm scheduling an appointment to get this stupid tooth out of my mouth. I'm getting sick and tired of it, AND it's given me a headache on top of not being able to eat my favorite foods for the past week. Frankly speaking, I'm getting sick of porridge.

So, speaking of food, let's move on to the next post on my Bali trip. Being typical Malaysians, me and my larling just went around town looking for good food to eat. The first 'local' dish we tried was this:



Yup, 'Dirty Duck'. Otherwise known as Bebek Bengil, it is actually crispy fried duck, and actually quite clean. I donno why they call it dirty duck, maybe because you had to get your hands dirty to eat it (best way to eat it is to RIP IT APART with your hands and SUCK the meat off the bones). Very good, very cripsy, very YUM YUM.



The restaurant ambience was also pretty nice ...



...though I think it's slightly on the 'high end' side, as far as food in Ubud goes.

Anyway, the next day, we tried something differnt, and slightly dirtier than even dirty duck: BABI GULING, or suckling pig (DEFINITELY non-halal, this, so all you people who are sensitive about pigs, then feel free to get out of here. Otherwise, be warned, there IS a picture of a pig here, and even a cartoon of one *sic*.)



This 'establishment' is more on the 'roadside hawker' type of place, and here's what they serve:



Yup, PORK (Duh). they serve rice with pork meat, innards and what not, like this:



VERY popular with the locals, so sometimes you have to line up for it. Quite cheap though, only less than RM5 for a whole plate. Taste? Pretty good, very aromatic, and quite tasty too.

Ambience here is not quite as nice though:



Anyway, next we heard about this Nasi Ayam in the outskirts of Ubud, and being the eccentric Malaysian tourists we were, decided to CYCLE the 5 odd km outside of Ubud just to eat that.

It was called Nasi Ayam Kedewatan (after the street it's located on), and by the time we'd arrived there, we were too damn tired to care WHAT we were eating, frankly. But thankfully, it was the right place, and the chicken rice, which looked like this:



Was quite tasty too. I finished my plate, AND half of my larling's. It had some spicy chicken, lots of deep fried innards (including something that looked so gross we didn't even wanna TOUCH it), and was slightly spicy (which wrecked havoc on our stomachs as we were cycling back. It BUUURRRNS!!!).

Oh, and later when I was cycling alone (she had gone off to the spa) and got in the rain, I happened to stop by a roadside stall and had some fish satay...



The ones on the left are pure fish, and the ones on the right is fish paste mixed with coconut. Both were GOOOOOD (though if you're paranoid about food being sold on sidewalks and roads, then you'd better not try).

So, that were the more interesting things we ate while we were there in Ubud. There WERE other stuff like peanut kueh, goreng pisang, and I had some weird mushy kueh thingy that had banana in it, but it was all so so only. Oh, and of course, that's besides the hotel's American breakfast we had daily by the padi field. Yum.

Ok, I'd better stop talking about food now or I'll scream.

Monday, 27 February 2006

The Bali High: They didn't bomb Ubud, right?

As I'm slowly wisely coming to terms to having to see my most feared person in the world - the dentist - about getting this blasted wisdom tooth out of my mouth, I've not been thinking very coherently, which is why I've been so slow in getting my Bali posts out (and also why I've actually been writing more in Bumi Tengah as well. Apparently pain improves your nonsensical cavity.. I mean, creativity).

Anyway, I'll start off my series of four Bali-related posts (which might be interjected by other non-Bali related posts now and then) with this short one on where I stayed in Bali (I have a whole post on what I ATE there later)...

So... before I went, people were warning me, "Eh, you sure you wanna go Bali ar? Kena bomb how?". I was like, "Dude, Bali is NINE TIMES the size of Singapore. Unless they drop a NUKE on the island, I really doubt I'd get caught in a terrorist attack while vegetating in hotel room by a padi field with not a Mat Salleh in sight."

So, in the end, I didn't even set foot in Kuta, where everybody loves to go to party and shop, and instead spent the whole time in Ubud, supposedly the cultural center of Bali. We stayed in this nice resort called Komaneka Resort in the center of the town, and boy was it nice.

Oh, this was the view from my hotel patio, BTW:



Nice eh? There are few things better in life than having breakfast sent to my room in the morning, and eating it with my larling next to the peaceful sight and sounds of a padi field.

Heck, even the chickens were interesting:




I like Ubud. It's a nice town. Despite some busy roads here and there, the traffic is still reportedly not as bad as Kuta or Denpasar, and is fairly safe to cycle or walk around.

And one of the most common things you'll see when you do that are these:



These are caleld 'chanang' or 'chanar' (can someone tell me the correct spelling?) and it's an offering that the Balinese make every morning to offer thanks to the gods and ask for blessings. EVERY shop has these nifty things in front of them, and even the taxis have them on their cars.

Speaking of taxis, the taxi drivers there are pretty annoying. You can't go five meters without someone callign out to you, "TAXI? TAXI?" and if you refuse, they'll ask you, "How about tomorrow? Taxi?". GAH! Leave us alone already!

Oh, and you'll also see lots of little shrines, and happy blokes like this guy:



...guarding narrow doorways into the traditional Balinese house compounds. Very cool, to see all these guys along the streets.

Besides all the souvenir shops, in Ubud, there's also a Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a few temples, lots of women carrying sacks of stuff on their heads, some cultural dances to watch every night, and lots of interesting places to eat.

More on that in the next posts. Right now, I need my painkillers.

A Quickie Before the High

Bali was a blast, holiday did not last.
Back at work today, no time to update ok?
Maybe in the evening, when tooth is not aching
Will post first Bali shot, so keep watching this spot!

Friday, 24 February 2006

The Oasis Live Supernova Masterplan

With all the stupid cartoony stuff happening right now, I'm sometimes glad that I was out of the country, blissfully ignorant about affairs in the country...

Anyway, let us not dwell on what has been repeated over and over again, and concentrate on what's REALLY important to me on this blog...... ME!

Heh.

So, Oasis concert was last night. I was feeling very down, my wisdom tooth was acting up, and I was feeling really tired from all the traveling I'd done in the past two days. No condition to be going for a rock concert, mind you.

But ooooh boy, was it a blast.

This is OASIS, so I might be a tad bias here and maybe long-winded here, since they're one of my favorite bands, AND I think I might be one of the very few in the entire stadium who knew the titles AND the lyrics to EACH AND EVERY SONG they sang.

Anyway. Well. The concert supposed to start at 8pm. Bloody hell, I go there cun-cun 8pm, not yet start. So have to stand around ALONE (because SOMEONE ditched me, ahem ahem), looking at chicks and singing to the Clash songs over the sound system.

but oh well, concert eventually started at 8:30pm. the lights went down, and the stage lights went up, and the strains of the instrumental F**king in the Bushes came on, to which the band members just sorta SWAGGERED on stage and picked up their instruments.

I swear that Liam Gallagher was probably swaggering since he was a baby. The way he just sorta strutted around the stage made him look as if he would just jump in the crowd and punch somebody at any time. Damn gangster-like I tell you.

And his TALKING? He warbled his lines so much everyone just couldn't bloody make out what the hell he was talking about 90% of the time!

Well, thank goodness his singing was still the same.

So, on to the first songs then. Turn up the Sun, followed by Lyla (which was probably one of the few songs from the new album that most of the fans knew), and then into Bring It On Down (from the Definitely Maybe album, some of the newer fans got a bit lost here...), before getting the crowd going with Morning Glory.

Judging from the response from the fans, I think most of them were there just to hear three songs...

Anyway, I'll not go thru the entire songlist. but the best part for me was the first time Liam finished HIS set, then hung his tramboline on the mike and just STALKED off the set without saying a word, leaving Noel to sing three songs on his own.

THIS was my favorite set of songs, because Noel sang songs I really really liked - The Importance of Being Idle (in which Noel's voice was sorta drowned), The Masterplan, and the rollicking Mucky Fingers.

Mucky Fingers especially was great when the drum solo in the end, while The Masterplan is simply, one of the best songs I've heard in a concert EVER. I was genuinely surprised and happy he played that song... didn't expect that at all.

Anyway, on came Liam again, and launched straight into Songbird, which was my favorite Liam song of the night.

Anyway, obviously, the loudest cheers of the night was when the following songs came on - Champagne Supernova (Noel's guitar solo ROCKED!), Wonderwall (which REALLY got everyone going), Live Forever (probably the only song from Definitely Maybe that most people knew), and the 'last song' Rock and Roll Star, which got the crowd all dancing and clamouring for more.

Thankfully, there was an encore.

Two songs from the new album later, Liam once again trundled off, leaving Noel tinkering with his guitar. A few adjustments here and there, and a slightly altered intro later, Noel began the song that got the biggest roar of the night - DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER.

I tell you, there's NOTHING like screaming "So, Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as she's walking on by" with a few thousand other fans. It was soooo cooool that made the final encore song (a cover of The Who's My Generation sung by the magically appearing Liam) a little anticlimatic (though it DID get everyone dancing though).

Anyway, I personally had a blast. Oasis are DEFINITELY a band that has to be seen live. Coldplay be damn, Oasis's songs may not be as stadium-sing-along friendly as Chris Martin's whining, but GODDAMN they are GREAT when listened to LIVE and REALLY REALLY LOUD.

The combo of the loud music, the swagerring, the non-chalant way the band just went about their business, the almost non-existent banter that consisted of mostly one-liners by Liam (Noel didn't say anything at all. Besides, come on lar, it's OASIS, not bloody crowd-ass-licking Westlife or some random Hongkong cantopop can't-sing-but-good-stage-banter 'performer'), AND the fact that this was the ONLY concert I'd been to (besides the Beyond concert some years back) where I could SING ALONG with EVERY song, made this a STUPENDOUSLY great experience for me.

So, thank you for lasting this long in my extremely long-winded and idol-worshipping and very much picture-less review of the Oasis concert in Singapore last night. Now let me suffer my wisdom tooth in peace.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Times for a Special Eyeris Public Service Announcement

We interupt Eyeris' vacation for this special public service announcement:

THE TIMES WAREHOUSE SALE IS BACK!!!!

God knows how much money I've spent in the last two installments of this warehouse sale. It's still my favorite book sale so far.

Anyway, behold, the sordid details:

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

Dear cardholders,

Times The Bookshop is organizing its much awaited warehouse sale! Largest sale ever with over 33,000 sq ft!!

With a bigger space, Times is bringing in a wider selection of books and various back issues of Australian magazines at very low prices.

In addition, Times The Bookshop is supported by Longman who participates in its very first warehouse sale offering a huge variety of school references, dictionaries and children's titles.
Be sure to take advantage of our great bargains!

Date: 23rd Feb - 5th March
Time: 10am - 8pm (Sun - Thurs)
10am - 9pm (Preview Day, Fri & Sat)

Contact: 017-2753618
Venue: 1st Floor, The Atria Shopping Centre, Jalan SS22/23, Damansara Jaya, 47400 Petaling Jaya

Offer: RM5 cash voucher for every RM150 purchase*

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

And the map, of course:




Thank god I'm not around this weekend, AND that I have no money, or 'll be spending even MORE money on books I can never get around to reading......

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Bali Was Great...



Doo di doo...

Regular blogging transmission MAY resume on Saturday, after I get back from the Oasis concert. In the meantime, keep asking those questions, and why don't I see any credit card numbers eh? eh? eh?

Thursday, 16 February 2006

A Happy Holiday Hiatus Hurrah!

One thing I like most about Malaysia is the number of holidays we have. Not just ANY holidays, mind you, but holidays WITH festivals, and all sorts of different ones too.

Those poor sods in the West only have Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas (which WE also have) holidays to look forward to (lets disregard all the summer, winter etc etc weather related holidays they have, shall we?).

WE, have so many more. Besides the big ones like Hari Raya (BOTH of them), Chinese New Year and Deepavali, we've got smaller ones like Thaipusam, royal birthdays (about the only thing the monarchy is good for, IMHO), FT Day etc. Heck, we even have so many holidays that we have to spread them out to each state so that each state can have state holidays on their own!

I remember growing up in Pahang, and having so many holidays in one month that when I realised that Pahang had one holiday in May that NO OTHER STATE has, called Hari Hol, and was so happy. I was thinking to myself at the time, "Wah, Pahang damn cun leh. Got Hari Hol holiday to celebrate holidays!"

(Only later did I find out that Hari Hol is supposed to be a day of remembrance of the dead. What dead exactly, I don't know. I only know it's a holiday in Pahang)

Anyway, the reason I'm going on and on about holidays today is because... I AM ON HOLIDAY RIGHT NOW! WOOT WOOT!

I'm going off to Bali for a few days starting tomorrow, so in the meantime, this blog is gonna be on hiatus until maybe after I get back from my Oasis concert on the 23rd...

So, in the meantime, I open the floor to all you dudes and dudettes out there, no matter whether you came here to look at the PPS calender girls, or to look at sexy Thai chicks in uniform; and invite you to either:
  • Ask me a question, any question
  • Tell me what you want me to write about on EoE
  • Tell me just exactly WHY you are here
  • Give me your favorite credit card number.
Anything goes! (except the credit card number. That one has to accurate ok? Or else I can't buy anythign with it. Oops, did I say that out loud?)

Thank you, and goodnight! See you in a week!

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Cute Plans for Death Cabs and Marching Bands

It's not often I take a chance on a band I've never heard of, since most of the music I listen to AND buy usually comprises of the usual favorites only. The last time I decided to take a chance and buy a CD from a band outside my favorites was when I bought The Hives' Tyrannosaurus Hives, which turned out to be pretty crap.

Anyway, after downloading and liking one of their songs, I decided to take a chance and buy the album called Plans by this weirdly named band called Death Cab For Cutie the other day, and thankfully, it was a pretty good gamble.

Plans is actually Death Cab for Cutie's first major label album, and apparently, they are pretty popular in the Indie Pop scene. But after this album was released, a lot of people called them sell-outs (damn, I hate that word).

(UPDATE: Apparently, according to Poptart, they are everywhere in the indie scene, and have been featured on The OC lots of times before. Fancy me not having heard of them before. Oh well, maybe it's because I don't watch The OC, and I don't follow music THAT much either, or I'd have remembered a weird name like 'Death Cab For Cutie'!)

While I do agree that this album sounds a lot more polished than their previous albums (I've listened to some of their past albums as well, after I bought this one, I have to say that it is still very much worth a listen.

Almost all of the songs in Plans are slow or mid-tempo, and have this rather soothing quality to them. As you listen on, the combination of the nice soothing melodies and the lyrics just makes you want to sing along.

Oh, BTW, I like their lyrics most:

If Heaven and Hell decide, that they both are satisfied,
And illuminate the 'NO's, on their vacancy signs.
If there's no one beside you, when your soul embarks,
Then I'll follow you into the dark.

For some reason, I couldn't get this chorus for I'll Follow You Into The Dark this song out of my head. I just kept playing and playing it, and the lyrics stuck with me all the while. Same goes for the opening song Marching Bands of Manhattan :

Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole
Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound
But while you debate half empty or half full
It slowly rises, your love is gonna drown

Death Cab For Cutie's songs kinda remind me of a cross between the Kings of Convenience and Jimmy Eat World, with lyrics like Simon and Garfunkel. I could listen to it over and over again, singing along to the songs, memorising the lyrics, and er... not feel sleepy at all despite the somewhat slow tempo.

Wooho, I've found another band (with a weird name) that I really like! Now to get their earlier stuff...

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Valentine's Day in Toyland

Because even toys need love...










Sunday, 12 February 2006

Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)

So, I've finally read Howl's Moving Castle, thanks to Daphne lending me her copy. I haven't watched the anime though, so I'm not gonna say anything about THAT yet.

I have to admit, I only found out about the book when the Hayao Miyazaki anime came out, but being the stickler for 'Original Forms First' that I am (meaning, if the movie is based on a book, I prefer reading the book first THEN watch the movie, and vice versa).

Anyway, I liked the book. Will watch anime later. For now, here is the book review:

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



Title: Howl's Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Synopsis:
In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell and turned into an old lady.

Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls.

There she meets Michael, Howl's apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But then Sophie isn't the only one under a curse....

What I liked:
  • Jones has a very simple, matter-of-fact kind of writing style that I like very much
  • Enough details without making it seem TOO details
  • Magical and whimsical at the same time
  • Calcifer is a FUN character!
  • I like the way she developed her characters, letting out little secrets one by one, making us want to know more and more...

What I Didin't Like:
  • How Sophie was so cool towards being turned into an old woman...
  • Some parts felt somewhat familiar... like I'd read it in an Enid blyton book before...
  • I felt slightly 'ho-hum-ed' by all the lovey-dovey bits.

Summary:
I finished this book in just under two days, and liked it very, very much. No wonder some people have been egging me on to read Jones' stuff for so long now.

I especially like the very doo-di-doo style of her writing, and the creative concept. Oh wait, a moving castle with doors that open to different places? Sounds a lot like a certain tree with a door that opens to different Lands, doncha think?

Well, that aside, I don't really have much to complain about this book. The characters are interesting, the interation between them even better. The whole magic thing and the plot itself is engrossing enough to keep you reading on and on, and when it comes to an end, you'll wanna more. MORE I SAY!

Anyway, It's a nice, whimsical little fairy tale that I can safely add into the list of books to read to MY future kids.

Now to get my hands on the anime...

Friday, 10 February 2006

Schmeichel Learns to Boycott Lego Beer

In response to Suanie's post about that so-WTF thingy that is hogging headlines lately and a certain call to boycott a certain country's products (no, I'm not even gonna bother posting that country's name, not because I support them, but like Suanie said, it's so WTF that I'd rather write a 30-word long paragraph on why I won't bother writing the name of the country rather than just, well, write the name of the country).

Anyway, after reading that post, I decided to go home and see what products from that particular country I had lying around the house, or any others I may peruse from time to time. Lemmesee....

Carlsberg
Bleh. They may sponsor Liverpool, but I wish they DON'T because I reckon that logo on the jersey is one of the causes of Liverpool going to BANGKOK, and then SINGAPORE but SKIPPING Malaysia. Bah. Well, the beer sucks anyway, so oklor, I don't drink lor.

LEGO
This one kenot boycott! Lego was what kept me happy when I was a kid (and probably kept my parents sane as well), and even now I'm still buying Lego for MY future kid (I'm just er... helping him make sure they work properly and the bricks connect properly into that COOL fire-station, and that MAGNIFICENT Imperial Shuttle...).

Besides, how can you hate something as innocently and religiously made out of Lego as THIS and THIS? (Thanks to Minishorts for the link!)

Butter Cookies
I don't eat biscuits. So I can live with not eating these.

Michael Learns To Rock
This band is such an insult to the word 'Rock' that I'd gladly boycott them. Now, let us all go burn down all those departmental stores who DARE insult the sanctity of the word 'Rock' by playing the music of this HORRIFYING and INSULTING lame excuse of a band!

Peter Schmeichel
YES! Boycott this fella! Not only did he used to play for Manchester United (THE SCUMBAG!), he is also a bad TV pundit!

Starbarks
Whadaya mean they're not from that country? But their coffee sucks! Let's boycott them too! What, they gotta draw some cartoons first?

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Observations of Wasted Reading Time

10 people traveling in an LRT:

  • 1 had a book
  • 2 had magazines
  • 2 were sleeping (one was drooling)
  • 5 others were staring blankly into space

10 people waiting in the bank:

  • 2 had books
  • 1 had a newspaper
  • 3 were counting the number of zeroes in their bank account book
  • 4 were staring at the 'nombor giliran' LCD display willing it to magically change into their number

8 people waiting for their food in a kopitiam (sitting on seperate tables):

  • 1 had a book
  • 1 was staring at his glass of water
  • 2 were leering at the boobs in the beer posters on the wall
  • 2 were either SMSing or playing games on their phone
  • 2 were reading the menus over and over again

And you wonder why people complain they have no time to read....

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Bordered at the Curved

The last time I wrote about Borders in Malaysia (That's the BOOKSTORE, not that invisible line between Malaysia and Singapore lar), I slammed the one in Times Square for looking like a Popular Bookstore, explained why I hated it, and later stirred up an irate Borders worker at the same time.

Well, yesterday I went to the Borders in The Curve, and I have to say, I was actually quite happy with what I saw.

Here's a short review, in point form:

What I liked:

  • At least this feels a lot closer to the one in Singapore
  • NO WORLD OF FENG SHUI! WOOT!
  • Not a bad collection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy
  • Nice carpeted floors
  • Nice cozy sofas
  • Lots of tall shelves with lots of books
  • The place definitely looks a lot more like a proper bookstore, rather than just a hypermarket for books trying to pass off as Malaysia's largest bookstore
  • I definitely prefer going to The Curve a lot more than that bloody termite warren called Times Square
What I didn't like:

  • What, FOUR tall shelves in 'Comics and Manga' section and only ONE has Graphic Novels? Even MPH had a better selection of comics!
  • The CDs were alphabetically arranged, but had no labels to indicate the alphabets or the artiste names. As a result, I gave up looking for the album I was looking for and bought it from somewhere else instead.
  • WHAT THE HECK is MICHAEL CRICHTON doing polluting the sanctity of the fantasy section?!??!
  • I hate Starbucks
Summary:

So, two floors, lots of books and a lot more cozier than the one in Times Square. It definitely beats the one in Times Square, because despite being smaller, they maximised the space here with more BOOKS and it also has no godawful WORLD OF FENG SHUI. If I came to the Curve more often, I'd probably visit the store more often as well.

But I have to say I still prefer Kinokuniya.

Monday, 6 February 2006

The Toyland in My Bedroom

Someone asked me once to put up some pictures of my toy collection, so seeing as I don't really have much to blog about right now, I guess these pictures of my toys will have to do for now.

And NO, they are not THOSE kind of toys...

First up, an overall view of half of my room...



Yup, different shelves, different sets of figures. It's hell to dust, but makes for an interesting sight... :D

And BTW, that's just probably one fifth of the entire collection. A lot of it is stored away in boxes...



First up, my Street Fighter action figures. I'm on a quest to collect only the original 12 fighters from Street Fighter II, and I'm waiting for the toy company to make Zangief, E. Honda and Dhalsim...

Cammy's just there because I had space. :D



Next up, my favorite set - my Marvel Minimates! These are little 3 inch tall Lego-like figures that can be posed and are compatible with Lego as well.

Since I can use them with Lego, I've been having some fun making little buildings out of the bricks to pose them one... :D




One half of my collection of movie-related figures. See if you can spot which figure is from which movie...

Oh, there's a little space in the middle of the shelf reserved for future figures... :D



Another one of my favorite displays, the Nightmare Before Christmas 6-inch figure set. I LOVE these things which probably also accounts for THIS:



Yup, Corpse Bride figures. La di da.

So there you have it, a part of my toy collection. I've still got lots more that are all stored in boxes (including my Transformers and LOTR stuff), but these are currently my favorites, so they're out in the open.

Now, anyone wanna volunteer to help me dust them?

Sunday, 5 February 2006

Book Review: Knife of Dreams (Robert Jordan)

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time is a real pain in the neck. I've written about it HERE before about how the series started out SO well in the first few books but ended up becoming this whole bloated series that gave the impression that the author was trying to milk as much out of his fans as possible.

I've just finished the er... ELEVENTH book in the series (12th if you count the prequel as well), and I'm basically ticked off that Jordan is STILL nowhere NEAR finishing the damn series.

Anyway, here's my review on Knife of Dreams, for this week's issue of the Hopefully-Weekly-Book-Review.

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



Title: Knife of Dreams (Book 11 in the Wheel of Time)
Author: Robert Jordan

Synopsis (from Amazon.co.uk):

(I'm not even gonna bother posting spoiler warnings, because basically, if you made it to Book 11, you'd probably already know the story (or don't care anymore).

As the very fabric of reality wears thin, all portents indicate that Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, is imminent - and Rand al'Thor must ready himself to confront the Dark One. But, Rand must first negotiate a truce with the Seanchan armies, as their forces increasingly sap his strength.

Perrin has made his own desperate truce with the Seanchan - he would deal with the Dark One himself to save his wife Faile from the Shaido. Meanwhile, Mat is caught up in a reckless escape from Ebou Dar with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons. But, Tuon is, in fact, in deadly danger from her Seanchan countrymen. Mat will have to risk much to prevail and still win her as his bride.

All is in flux as established powers falter. In Caemlyn, Elayne fights to gain the Lion Throne, while trying to avert Civil War, and Egwene finds that even the White Tower is no longer a place of safety. The winds of time have whirled into a storm, and Rand and his companions ride in the vortex. This small company must prevail against the trials of fate and fortune - or the Dark One will triumph and the world will be lost.

What I Liked:
  • More of Mat, less of Rand's gallivanting
  • Mat's story is at least quite interesting
  • Perrin's part was reasonably readable, even though he is one heck of a boring character
  • At least the end CAN be seen. Somewhat. A little. I think.
  • At least the plot is advancing. A little. I think. Again.
  • Some memorable moments here and there
  • Definitely a lot more readable than books 5 to 9 COMBINED.

What I Didn't Like
  • TOO MANY BLOODY CHARACTERS with SIMILAR NAMES
  • TOO MANY BLOODY CHARACTERS with NOTHING TO DO with the story
  • TOO MANY CHARACTERS, period.
  • Book 11 and STILL no end in sight? You better not be writing another prequel, Jordan.
  • The women all seem like stubborn bitches, the men all seem to be women-fearing idiots.
  • Rand is one uninspiring lead hero
  • Elayne's story is just plain dull.
  • Too many pages with nothing going on
  • Oh just get it done once and for all, Jordan
  • Jordan seems to have written himself into quite a mess, with TOO MANY loose ends to tie up and TOO many plotlines going on.
Summary:
All my grievances about the Wheel of Time series is all in this post of mine: The never-ending Wheel of Time, which was written almost TWO YEARS ago. Even then, my gripes about the bloody series have STILL not changed, so I'm not gonna repeat myself here.

Let's just say I'm getting really cheesed off by Jordan dragging his feet and not getting around to finishing the book ASAP.

While this particular book IS one of the better WoT books in the last er... FIVE, the fact that the previous books in the series leading up to this one were SO pointless just takes the magic out of the whole thing.

Read it if you must, or if like me, you just HAVE to finish something you've started. DON'T read it if you're looking for a quick fix, because a stand-alone book THIS ain't.

Friday, 3 February 2006

The Morning When Everyone Had the Same Idea

Basket. I am pissed off. I thought I sooooo crever, but NOOOO, everyone go and have the same idea as I did today.

Anyway, let's start from the beginning.

When I went to Taiwan last week, I got stuck for a while at the Taiwanese Immigration because apparently my passport was slightly torn, VERY worn and had two holes on my photo (which gave me really deep dimples), so I was adviced to change my passport when I got home (which was fine by me, because I didn't want to get stuck at another airport, suspected of holding a forged passport. Besides, it only had one more year left to go anyway. Time to change indeed).

So, I decided last night that, great, tomorrow's Friday, people probably haven't come back from their LOOONG breaks yet, it's probably a good time to go change my passport.

So I woke up this morning, ambled around packing my stuff, grabbed my passport, and even packed a nice little book to read while waiting, and drove to Pusat Bandar Damansara to change my passport. I parked the car, and took a nice leisurely walk to the Immagration department, where I saw...

LINES! QUEUES! BARISAN PANJANG!!! Lining up OUTSIDE on the road!!!

GAH!!!! WHY are all these people here!?!?!?!? They're supposed to be AWAY!

Oh wait. They're lining up at the Jabatan Pendaftaran. Probably people doing their MyKad. Whew!

So I doo-di-doo-ed and HAH-SUCKERS-ed my way past the long MyKad lines on the road, and when I got to the Immigration Department, my jaw dropped. There was ANOTHER long line there!!!!

Bah. So much for there being no crowds today. Everyone else probably thought so too. And I thought I so crever. I guess I'll have to save the passport changing for next week then. Sigh....

Oh well, at least on the bright side, I got a nice Subway sandwich for lunch...


PS: Oh, and I've finally updated Bumi-Tengah. Hehe.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

The Sandman Completeth Thy Dream

So it was that six months after I interviewed the King of Dreams, Neil Gaiman himself, I finally read and completed my collection of his most well known work - The Sandman comics.

And what a good read it is. Damn I wish I'd read them BEFORE I interviewed him. At least then I'd have a lot more questions to ask him.

I'd initially only bought the first book - Preludes and Nocturnes - because I needed something for him to autograph as a favor to someone, but when it accidently got signed with MY name instead, I decided to keep it (what else could I do?) and read it instead.

Then, because I'd already borrowed the second book - The Doll's House - as 'research', I read that as well. And so it began.

Since then, I'd been buying one or two books every month, and yesterday, I finally bought the ninth and tenth books - The Kindly Ones and The Wake.

Needless to say, I'm quite shattered that that's the end of the series. Sure, there's Endless Nights and the other Gaiman books to buy and read, but The Sandman was something special.

It was quite unlike any of the other comics I'd read (which basically, were limited to just manga, Hong Kong wuxia comics and Transformers comics) in that I actually wanted MORE AND MORE as I read on.

Morpheus a.k.a. Dream of the Endless may be a rather aloof, cold and emotionless hero, but you loved reading about him nonetheless. Maybe it was because he is so aloof most of the time that when he DOES show a hint of emotion, you felt it along with him.

And who could resist his siblings? Ok, maybe Despair, Desire and Destiny were not particularly er... desirable, but Delirium is one kooky character, Destruction is just fun, and Death... well, she just goes against every stereotype of the Grim Reaper you could think of. She's fun, pretty and chirpy, but stills hold a scent of sadness to her. Let's just say that now I understand why some chicks love her Goth chick look.

Anyway, Sandman is one heck of a book. Gaiman's stories, the different artists he collaborated with, and the overall rather depressing yet enlightening premise makes the entire series a damn good read. It's even fun spotting all the characters from the DC comics universe pop up wonce in a while (like Batman, Constantine, Martian Manhunter and so on).

My favorites? Brief Lives (my favorite story arc in the series, and the one where I decided Delirium was my favorite Endless), Season of Mists (I just love the different perspectives of the different envoys of different realms), and World's End (the ENDING, the ENDING!).

Now, I think it's time to move on to completing my Sin City collection....

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Fantasy novels have warped my fragile little mind!

Guess what? I finally found out why my brain is all screwed up!

Apparently, it's all those fantasy novels I've been reading that have been messing up my head. You see, I read in someone's blog that another someone said this:


"I think fantasy books damage your mind."

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Gee whiz, that explains my weird tequila + Gatorade mixing habits then. My mind must be pretty screwed up from my ten years of fantasy novel-reading.

Apparently, this person was quite adamant that fantasy novels corrupt the mind and are EVIL and goes against her religion!! (Oooo. me so scared for my pure and innocent soul). She even claimed to have 'proof' of it! (now I'm REALLY peeing my pants in terror).

Anyway, it's no secret I read a lot of fantasy novels. In fact, out of every ten books I read, at least 7-8 are fantasy novels. In fact, I read so many fantasy novels that it's gotten to a point where I really can't bring myself to read all those pulp fiction Dan Browns and John Grishams unless I have to review them.

Look, I'm not here to argue the issue from a religious point of view, because I'm not a particularly religious person in the first place. That said, while I agree that fantasy novels DO tend to be quite violent and are rather er.. graphic at times; to say that fantasy books damage the mind is like saying Doraemon is animation with sex. It's just plain DUMB.

Yes, yes, so fantasy novels are 'not real', being mostly creations of some over-imaginative author (like I told Alynna HERE), and don't really contribute to our knowledge of the real world (though some actually DO).

But frankly, I'd much rather read about some dragon tearing up a village by a riverside than some silly cryptologist following a path of conviniently placed clues to a stupid legend that questions the marital status of a certain religious figure.

I'd rather read a book about a boy wizard written in average writing, than yet another general fiction thriller/chic-lit/romance/sob-story/blablabla book that involves ZERO imagination to picture the story and the world it is set in.

After all, reading is not just about recognising words and following them through to make a sentences, and in turn forming coherent passages that make up a story that you don't need to think to understand.

A good read should involve using your imagination to visualise a location, to imagine a scene in your head, to picture the faces of every character in your mind's eye and to make up the entire story in your head as you go along.

To that end, I think the fantasy, more than any genre, encourages you to THINK and IMAGINE and BE CREATIVE.

While most general fiction DO allow certain degrees of imagination, it's only in fantasy and science fiction books that one really has to PICTURE in your mind what the author is trying to describe (mostly because I doubt one would have seen real life equivalents to things like balrogs, paperwings and Nanny Oggs, so you gotta make them up in your head instead).

I'd much rather have a friend who can argue with me whether the dragons in Robin Hobb's boks would kick Smaug's ass or not, than a friend who can't even (or refuses to) imagine what a dragon looks like because it might lead him or her to devil-worship (go listen to some black metal Simple Plan lar you).

To me, an unimaginative mind is a boring one, and having a boring imagination really does not appeal much to me, to tell the truth. So, you can go back to your nice, serious, unimaginative tomes and lead YOUR nice, pure life without any fun.

Me, I'll stick to my dragons, magic and demons, or whatever my over-imaginative mind can cook up; damaged mind be damned.

Besides, them dragons are probably a lot cooler anyway.