Tuesday, 31 October 2006

An Irritating Insertion of An Insipid Word

"INSIPID"

Def:
- bland (lacking taste or flavor or tang)
- A term used to describe coffee which has lost its flavour due to prolonged exposure to oxygen in the atmosphere
- Lacking qualities that excite, stimulate, or interest; dull.


I got into a TINY argument with someone today after one of the lines in my story was was taken out, and replaced with one that had this word in it.

Now, literally, the original line and her 'correction' has the same meaning, but by using that word 'insipid', the entire context of the story was changed. I wouldn't have been so mad if she'd used the word 'bland', but that's another story.

Just like what I said in one of my old posts about phrases I don't like, there are also certain WORDS that I just don't like using while writing, due to personal preference. These are words that I absolutely HATE using, and which I would only use when I thoroughly dislike something.

You see, the meaning of the word 'Insipid' may be harmless enough, but I always try to avoid using it in a story unless I have negative reactions to the blandness of the subject. The word itself may mean something quite ordinary, but the SOUND of the word just seems so... NEGATIVE and EVIL. Probably because it sounds like the word 'INSIDIOUS', that's why.

Which is why I only use INSIPID if I think something is SO bland and ordinary that I HATE it. And no, it has nothing to do with the second definition above (the one with the reference to coffee).


PS: Hmmm... Maybe I should start a 'Word of the week' thingy here, where I just pinpoint words that I like or don't like. What do YOU think? An inspiring idea? Or an insipid one?


Related posts:

Monday, 30 October 2006

Writers: Before and After Blogs

BEFORE BLOGS


  1. Get a damn good idea for an article.
  2. Brainstorm for days to get a good angle for story
  3. Propose to editor, who says "Ok, write and see how"
  4. Open word processor
  5. Wait ten minutes it took for ancient PC to load the word processor
  6. Type article
  7. Reread first draft
  8. Agonise over the grammar and spelling (don't want editors to think you're a doofus who can't spell)
  9. Wonder if the article is good enough for publication
  10. Rewrite the whole damn thing
  11. Agonise over the grammar and spelling
  12. Wonder if the article is good enough to be published
  13. Rewrite the whole damn thing again
  14. Finish article
  15. Call up and email editor only to get turned down because your article is 'too personal'
  16. Rewrite article and reangle it
  17. Email editor to see if it's usable
  18. Get approval
  19. Send story
  20. Wait.
  21. Wait.
  22. Wait.
  23. Flip through papers in the morning to see if article is published.
  24. Feel disappointed when article is not yet out
  25. Wait.
  26. Wait.
  27. Wait.
  28. Agonise over whether the piece was REALLY good enough, or whether the editor was just humouring you.
  29. Wait.
  30. Wait.
  31. Wait.
  32. Flip through papers in the morning to see if article is published.
  33. Start worrying that it's not going to be published after all
  34. Wait.
  35. Wait.
  36. Wait.
  37. Email editor to see when it's coming out
  38. Get reply saying he forgot about it and that it's coming out soon
  39. Wait.
  40. Wait.
  41. Wait.
  42. Flip through papers in the morning to see if article is published.
  43. Whee! The article published in the paper! It was all worth it! So what if it's sandwiched between a Vitagen ad and two obituaries?
  44. Agonise about whether the article was published because it WAS good enough, or because the editor was desperate and had to fill up some empty space.
  45. Buy ten copies of newspaper with article in it to distribute around.
  46. Yay! I am now a published writer! I hope no one complains about the article. :-(

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AFTER BLOGS

  1. No idea? No problem! No substance? No problem! No credibility? No problem!
  2. Type post! String a bunch of words together cleverly! Cut and Paste!
  3. Spellcheck? What's that? The hell with spelling and grammar!
  4. Is it good enough to be published? Who cares? It's MY blog!
  5. Editors? What are those? Are they good to eat?
  6. Click publish! VOILA! Instant gratification!
  7. Email friends and tell them your URL! Ping PPS!
  8. Don't like what I'm writing? SOD OFF! It's MY blog!
  9. Yay! I am now a "published writer"! I so power!

A Cute Chick Increases The Tao Factor

Although I have to attend quite a number of Chinese concerts in this line of work, normally you wouldn't catch me blogging or talking about any of them, let alone praising these concerts.

Fact is, I actually don't think very highly of most of the concerts I attend (whatever my reviews may say), unless of course they happen to be concerts by either Beyond or Jacky Cheung. Sad to say, while there have been exceptions, many of these concerts have been pretty predictable and boring, to say the least.

Which was why David Tao's concert last Saturday was such a breathe of fresh air.



The guy's got talent, I'll admit that. He writes his own songs, sings pretty well, can rock, can rap, and can play loads of music instruments. The songs he writes aren't half-bad either.

The concert? Some parts were predictable, usually when he started singing those predictable love baah-llads that Taiwanese singers are so fond of. But for the most part, he was actually pretty damn good, and versatile too.



For me, the best parts of the show were the rock segments and that acoustic session he had with three other musicians.

Oh, and although most people's eyes were probably glued to Tao himself (and in some cases, the music director :S ), I personally only had eyes for one person on stage:



Meet Ke Wei, one of the three backup vocalists (better known as the 'cute one') and also the resident Er Hu player. A cute chick who plays music, can sing AND can dance? Woot!

Too bad all my pictures of her turned out so blurry. Sigh...

That intro to Ghost on which she played the er-hu while another chick played the flute while standing on a high stage justaposed against a backdrop of psychedelic lights was possibly one of THE BEST intros to a song I've seen in a concert this year.

So yeah, surprisingly, although I'd gone prepared to hate it, I ended up enjoying myself st the concert on Saturday night. After all, good music + cute chick... who can resist?

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Book Review: Hood (Stephen R. Lawhead)

Whee! I'm REALLY on a roll with this Book Review thing, aren't I? Two more months of continuous weekly reviews and I can take off that 'Hopefully-Weekly' tag oledi...

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Title: Hood (Book 1 of the King Raven trilogy)
Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

Synopsis (From Amazon.co.uk):

Stephen R. Lawhead's Hood brings to life the legend of Robin Hood as never before.

The Norman conquest of England is complete - but for one young man the battle has only just begun. When Bran ap Brychan's father is murdered by Norman soldiers, he flees to London, seeking justice. The journey is long and hard - and the suffering of those he meets along the way fuels his anger.

With his demands dismissed, Bran has no choice but to return home, but a worse fate still awaits him there. His lands have been confiscated and his people subjugated by a brutal and corrupt regime.

Should Bran flee for his life or protect his people by surrendering to his father's murderers? The answer, perhaps, is known only to the Raven King - a creature of myth and magic born of the darkest shadows in the forest.


What I Liked:
  • I like the Robin Hood legend, in general.
  • I like spotting who is who, especially the familiar characters like Little John, Friar Tuck, and so on.
  • Simple enough to read. It IS supposedly a book for 'young adults'

What I Didn't Like:
  • Isn't the Robin Hood legend like, been done SO MANY TIMES before?
  • For a book for young adults, loads of people seem to be killed, maimed, and chopped down cold-bloodedly. How 'young' does Lawhead think his 'Young Adults' will be anyway?
  • I know it's supposed to be a re-telling of the Robin Hood legend, but the story still seems a litte too predictable and one dimensional.
  • Bran is a boring hero.
  • Do you need THREE BOOKS to retell a story that's been told over and over again before?

Summary:
Well, considering I finished it in two weeks or so, I can't really say I hated the book. (oh wait, I finished Da Vincci Shoecode in three days and I still hated it). But I don't LOVE it either.

I've never read Lawhead's King Arthur books, though I've heard they were good, and I actually DO have those books on my shelves. And now he's retelling another legend - Robin Hood - pulak. Me thinks he needs to get new ideas.

Now, I like Robin Hood. but I didn't like Lawhead's Robin Hood. Somehow, I don't like the idea of Bran being Robin Hood that much, because I thought he was boring, cowardly and nowehre near as noble as Robin Hood should be. (Well, come to think of it, neither was Kevin Costner, for that matter...)

Overall, the book reads easily enough - the story is simple, familiar (it IS A retelling of Robin Hood after all) and As a book for 'young adults', I suppose its a decent enough read. But personally, it's a little TOO one-dimensional and predictable for my liking. A little too "been-there-done-that."

And not only that, it's a damn TRILOGY. You'd think a retelling of an already established legend with a ready-made story could be wrapped up in one or two books at the most...

Friday, 27 October 2006

The Faithful Departure from The Infernal Affair




Or Why I prefer Infernal Affairs to The Departed:

  • Infernal Affairs captivated me more, The Departed, not so much (though I think it's because I'd already known the story before I watched The Departed, having already watched Infernal Affairs, obviously).
  • I think I also connect with the more Asian slant of Infernal Affairs than with the Hollywood/Western/American style of The Departed.
  • Somehow, even all the F-Words in The Departed seem lame beside the more penetrating and hard-hitting dialogue in Infernal Affairs (though you'd have to know Cantonese to understand them).
  • Infernal Affairs more stylo-milo. I also prefer it's darker and more subtle atmosphere.
  • Story is the same, but I prefer the way Infernal Affairs plays it out
  • Somehow, the characters in Infernal Affairs had a lot more depth in them.
  • Anthony Wong. Nuff said.
  • Tony Leung. Nuff' said.
  • The Leung/Di Caprio character was developed better in Infernal Affairs, IMHO.
  • Matt Damon was ok though. He was almost as slick and oily as Andy Lau.
  • Damn cacat Cantonese in The Departed.
  • Bloody censors also spoiled it for The Departed. Why don't they GET IT that this kind of thing will only make MORE people wanna go get the pirated version instead...
  • Somehow, although Jack Nicholson was great, having the short and squeaky-voiced Eric Tsang as Eric Tsang as the crime boss made it seem a lot more 'unique' and menacing, as unbelivable as that may seem.
Yes yes, lemme hear all the "but it's a different film", "It's not supposed to be a copy of IA" rebuttals. But really, Martin, when your story is almost exactly the same as the film you're 'remaking', you really can't escape comparisons.

Let's get this straight. Some people like one to the other. Some people don't care. ME, I think that there is no point comparing the two, but I just prefer one to the other, that's all.

HOWEVER, although The Departed is definitely NOT Infernal Affairs; The Departed is also NO Infernal Affairs either...

Go figure.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go watch Infernal Affairs!!!

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Isn't a Trilogy Just a Series of Three Books?

Good god. I actually worked harder over the holidays than I did in the days LEADING UP to the holidays. I probably need a life like, just about now. Today, it's back to work (officially), and back to the blog I suppose. Missed me?

Didn't think so.

What, not even my incredible wit and awesome book reviews?

Bah.

Okok, enough wallowing in self-pity. It's time to get back to my work/coffeeaddiction/FinalFantasyVII. But before that, a blog post.

Yes, a Blog Post, by jove!

Ahem.

Anyway, I've been following a discussion on Glenda Larke's blog, where she asks "What is a fantasy trilogy?":

Do you prefer trilogies to series? How would you define the difference? And for those who have done tons of reading: What's the best trilogy you've ever read?

And I wrote a nice long comment about it. I'm not gonna reproduce the comment here (go read it yourself lar!), but rather, I'll just answer the above questions one by one ok?

Here we go...


1) Do you prefer trilogies to series? How would you define the difference?

Isn't a trilogy a series in the first place? To me, a 'trilogy' just means the series has three books, and nothing else.

That said, it's hard to say a trilogy is better than a series and vice versa. Some trilogies seem so dead-set to keep it to THREE BOOKS AND ONLY THREE BOOKS that the author rushes things, leaves things unresolved and resorts to cheap cliches just to advance the plot just so they can wrap it up in three books.

It's no fun when books end on a lousy note, ok? If a trilogy still has potential to continue into more books, then let it continue lar. Or at the very least ,do what Hobb and Stephen R. Donaldson did with THEIR 'trilogies' expand them with MORE trilogies, so that people who want to continue reading about the characters and the world can do so, but those who don't can just stop at the first trilogy.

That said, there is a difference between extending the 'trilogy' to four or five books for the sake of doing it justice; and writing more books just to STRETCH the story, adding more and more sub-plots and losing the plot completely. Jordan, take note (You too, Martin, you're beginning to test my patience with Song of Ice and Fire).

That's called blatant EXPLOITATION and MILKING the popularity of your books. Stop making things up as you go along and bloody FINISH your series' already. You think you're writing what, a manga series is it?

That said, Terry Pratchett's Discworld 'series' is fine though, because they are mostly all standalone books, but just set in a same world, and occasionally following the same stoyline or continuity, that's all. You can jump in on the Discworld series from any book you want, and still not be completely lost. Try doing THAT with Wheel of Time.

And no, I don't think of the Lord of the Rings as a trilogy.


2) What's the best trilogy you've ever read?

Ooooooh, very hard to pinpoint which is the best. I've got quite a few, actually, but the two (and then some) that really stand out right now are:



- The Abhorsen trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen (Garth Nix)
One of THE best children's fantasy written in recent times, I have to say. :-)

- The Farseer trilogy: Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest
- The Liveship Traders trilogy: Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny
- The Tawny Man saga: Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate
All by Robin Hobb, and that's like a whole TRILOGY of trilogies! While the Liveship Traders trilogy isn't about Fitz, it's still directly connected to what happens in Tawny Man Saga, which in turn is a direct sequel to the Farseer trilogy. All three rank as my top ten favorite trilogies EVER.

Will add more when I think of more. Now, I wanna go back to playing Final Fantasy VII... oh wait, WORK first....

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Selamat Hari Raya!

Selamat Hari Raya,
KL takde kereta.
Trafik jam langsung takda,
Jerebu masih ada.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Book Review: The Ladies of Grace Adieu (Susanna Clarke)

You can tell I haven't had time to blog, or had much to blog about anyway by the way the last two posts went. One was a result of having the phrase 'Disco Dragons' stuck in my head for a few hours, the other one was a failed attempt to write a coherant story out of song titles that have the honorifics Mr, Mrs or Miss in them.

Sporadic nonsense indeed.

Anyway, it's a weekend, AND a public holiday as well (Happy Deepavali & Selamat Hari Raya to everyone!), so let's get back to business shall we? At least with a Hopefully-Weekly-Book-Review, you will actually KNOW what I'm talking about...

Anyway, on to Susanna Clarke's latest book: The Ladies of Grace Adieu. The cover looks like a chic book, the title sounds like a chic book, but its actually a collection of fantasy short stories set in the same period/era/style as Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

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Title: The Ladies of Grace Adieu (and other stories)
Author: Susanna Clarke

Synopsis:
Faerie is never as far away as you think. Sometimes you find you have crossed an invisible line and must cope, as best you can, with petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time embroidering terrible fates, or with endless paths in deep dark woods and houses that never appear the same way twice.

The heroines and heroes bedevilled by such problems in these fairytales include a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Strange himself and the Raven King.


What I Liked:
  • It reminds me of everything I liked about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Some of the stories here remind me of the little fairytales and fables I used to love when I was a kid.
  • I love the different styles and ways that Clarke uses to tell her stories.
  • Fairies! Magic! and more Jonathan Strange! And the Raven King!
  • A story based on Stardust!
  • the illustrations are cool, and drawn by Charles Vess (Stardust, Books of Magic)

What I Didn't Like:
  • Sometimez I doe not knoe what she sayz becauz she writes like thiz, especially on the second story On Lickerish Hill (which Clarke writes entirely in Suffolk dialect)
  • I suppose if you're not familiar with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel, then the way Clarke writes her stories here, as well as the setting, would seem a little dry and hard to get into.


Summary:
Put simply, if you loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, you'll love this book as well. Almost all the stories are set in roughly the same period, and written in roughly the same style.

However, the stories here are hardly straghtforward though, since almost all of them have their own unique feel to them, and the styles in which Clarkes wrote the stories makes this a pretty varied yet similar collection.

I especially liked the title story - The Ladies of Grace Adieu - because besides having Jonathan Strange himself in the story, it also expands the fantasy world in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and adds more dimensions to that book.

Other stories I liked was Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby, John Uskglass and the Charcoal Burner (it has a very fable-like feel to it) and Mrs Mabb.

Clarke even wrote one story based on Neil Gaiman's Stardust (though I didn't read that particular story - The Duke of Wellington Misplaces his Horse - because I haven't read Stardust yet, and I don't wanna risk reading any spoilers.)

It's usually a pretty good measure of how good a book is if I manage to finish it within a couple of days of buying it. I bought The Ladies of Grace Adieu while on another of my Kinokuniya KLCC excursions to look for Wintersmith (which is STILL not out here yet. GRRRR) last Sunday, and finished it on Thursday, so there you

After Gaiman's Fragile Things, this is the second collection of short stories running that I have finished in record time. This year may well be the year of fantasy short story collections for me. Until Wintersmith finally gets here, that is...

Friday, 20 October 2006

Mr, Mr, Miss, Miss, Ms & Mrs

Six friends were sitting at a cafe.


"She's looking at you," said Mr Jones matter-of-factly.

"How did it end up like this?It was only a kiss!" moaned Mr Brightside quietly.

"Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes," sneered Mrs Robinson sarcastically.

"So who you placing the blame on?" snapped Ms. Jackson accusingly.


Silence. No one really wanted to know the answer.


"It’s just the price I pay," sighed Mr Brightside resignedly.

"We'd like to help you learn to help yourself," offered Mrs Robinson helpfully.

"Fake it through the day with help from some Johnny Walker Red," adviced Miss Misery symphatetically.

"And I would gladly bet my life upon it," laughed Miss Murder drunkedly.


Another pause. Then a complete change of subject.


"She's perfect for you. Man, there's got to be somebody for me," quipped Mr Jones unabashedly.

"Ever searching for what we were promised, eh?" jested Miss Murder merrily.

"Jealousy turns saints into the seas," deadpanned Mr Brightside cryptically.


Upset with the change in subject, one of them attempts to steer the conversation back...


"She never got to hear my side of the story," complained Ms Jackson annoyingly.


But not everyone wanted to talk about it.


"It's a little secret, just the Robinsons' affair," snapped Mrs Robinson angrily.


And with that, the conversation ended. Until...


"I wish I was someone just a little more funky," whined Mr Jones pathetically.


But then, no one was listening anymore.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Disco Dragons Do Di Do...

Dodo Daddies dum di dum
Dizzy Dinner dar dar dar
Dapper Doggies di di di
Disco Dragons do di do
Deadly Divas da di da
Dum dum dum dum
Doo doo doo
Da da da
Di di di!
DOOP!

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

How to visit Suria KLCC: The Eyeris Way

  1. Park the car in P4 (instead of driving straight down to P3 or P4, getting a place to park immedietely, and going up FOUR flights of escalators, many Malaysians seem to think parking in P1 and P2 will save them time and energy going up TWO flights of escalators, so they would rather circle those floors for 30 minutes looking for parking lots)
  2. Go up the FOUR flights of escalators to the Concourse area, and head STRAIGHT for the elevators on the far ends of the mall on other side (I NEVER bother taking the open-glass elevators in the middle of the mall, because they take FOREVER)
  3. Take Elevator to Level 4, and go straight to Kinokuniya
  4. At Kinokuniya: Comics-Fantasy-New Arrivals-Magazine (reverse the sequence if entering from the other entrance)
  5. Go down 2 flights of escalators to the Picnic foodcourt
  6. Get a Banana-Moo smoothie from Juice Lab (the bestest smoothie evar!)
  7. Go to iSetan's toy section to see if there are any new toys (iSetan's toy section is probably the most up-to-date one among all the departmental stores in KL)
  8. Go down one flight of escalators inside iSetan
  9. Walk through the sports section (to see whether got any cheap football jerseys, I got my Valencia one for only RM100+ there)
  10. Go out and head to San Francisco Coffee (and order a Mo Mocha)
  11. Spend rest of the time reading, lepaking or surfing at SF Coffee.
  12. On the way to car, drop in at Times Bookstore and Tower Records
  13. Pay Parking
  14. Go home.
  15. Repeat sequence for every visit to KLCC (Which I'd been doing for 4 days out of the five when I was off duty last week...)

I just realised I also have a similar route when I visit Mid Valley and 1 Utama... sigh, I need more places to lepak...

Monday, 16 October 2006

How I Usually Decide What Music to 'Acquire'

1) Recommendations by colleagues and friends
2) Songs name-checked by my favorite bands (case in point: Snow Patrol mentioning Sufjan Stevens, and Jimmy Eat World singing about Heatmiser)
3) Modern Rock charts (I don't bother with the hip-hop infested singles charts)
4) Picked up from random blogs that tell you what they are listening to. (Favorite sources so far: Strizzt & Reta)
5) Frequently mentioned songs in imported music magazines (especially those with five star reviews in Q)
6) Music reviews in StarMag (usually those by Martin Vengadesan)
7) Songs heard on TV shows like CSI, House and so on; as well as certain anime themes (the theme from Witch Hunter Robin ROCKS)
8) Clash RedFM 104.9, 2pm, Sundays (I don't bother with radio stations in general)
9) Songs from movies I like
10) Random songs by usually unknown artistes that I see on Amazon's 'If You Liked This, You'll Like..." list

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Book Review: Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman)

There are currently only a few authors whose books I'd pick up the INSTANT I see it on the bookshelves, never mind if it means me eating roti kosong for the rest of the month - Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb, and the newest addition to the list, Neil Gaiman.

I finished Fragile Things a few days ago, so I suppose I'll just review it here. Damn, I AM getting more efficient at this Weekly-Book-Review thing, aren't I?

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Title: Fragile Things: Short Fiction & Wonders
Author: Neil Gaiman

Synopsis:
How the heck do you write a synopsis to a collection of short stories? Anyway, this is Gaiman's second book of short stories (after Smoke and Mirrors), and includes quite a good variety of short stories and poems, including ghost stories, Sci-Fi, fantasy, horror, and even Tori Amos sleeve notes...

What I liked:
  • A Study in Emerald
  • Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire
  • Bitter Grounds
  • Harlequin Valentine
  • Locks
  • The Problem of Susan
  • Goliath
  • Sunbird
  • The Day the Saucers Came

What I didn't like:
  • Diseasemaker's Croup


Summary:

The stories I listed in the what I like and what I didn't like sections above are my favorites and my least favorite. As you can see, there was only one 'story' in the book that I didn't really like that much (probably because it reads like an entry in a medical journal, which, actually WAS meant to be the case).

(BTW, this doesn't mean that those that I didn't mention aren't any good, but they range in the middl, between being my 'favorites' and 'least favorites').

Anyway, this is a satisfying set of stories, for me at least. The stories in here are varied enough to be interesting, but still retain that 'Gaiman' feel to it.

Piece of advice though. Try NOT to read the prologue at the start of the book before you start on the stories, because Gaiman writes introductions to each story, at times giving away the essense of the story (although not the actual plot of the story itself).

It was more fun for me to FIRST start reading the stories, and THEN going back to the prologue after each story to see what Gaiman was thinking or the circumstances behind each particular story. Got some pleasant surprises that way as well.

I have a weird habit of always trying to ration out the individual stories accordingly whenever I read a collection of short stories that I like, just so the book can kononnya last longer lah (and so all the stories don't meld together into one confused mess of different plots and characters).

Happily, I was compelled to do the same thing with Fragile Things' stories and poems as well, because I didn't want to run out of stories too soon.

Friday, 13 October 2006

The Town where Killers Don't Give a Hot Fuss



Sam's Town is a nice place where Killers don't give a hot fuss,
Upon the enterlude, they hope I enjoy my stay.
When You Were Young, you would have loved it here,
But you'd have been a tad undecided with my Bling.
For Reasons Unknown, I continued slightly unimpressed into the town,
And somehow, they started to Read My Mind and sensed my disillusion
So they sent Uncle Jonny to help me get over my despair.
But after that, my Bones still failed to ignite,
And My List of almost-there items grew longer.
Until I realised that This River Is Wild enough to make up for it,
And I wondered Why Do I keep Counting as the journey ends on a high note
And upon the exitlude, I was ready to go back to the start again...

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Batman and Wolverine Do Magic (And Scarlett Johansson)

My memory's going nuts I tell you. Last week I managed to mistake a Wednesday for Tuesday and forgot a dinner date. Then yesterday, because I'd been on leave for the last five days, I thought it was Monday.

Then today, I woke up in the morning thinking FOR THE LIFE OF ME that I had to go to the office EARLY and then go and catch some Chinese movie at 1oam. I got up, went to office at freaking 7am in the morning, worked a bit, and then went to Mid Valley GSC only to realise that today was the 12th and the damn Chinese movie is TOMORROW.

At least I got to watch The Prestige, even though I didn't even know the preview was today. Yeah, The Prestige.

No, it's not a car.



Not too bad a movie, actually. In fact, I reckon it's most certainly better than that whatever Nothing is Impossible Chinese movie I'll be watching tomorrow morning.

Never heard of The Prestige? Don't worry. I hadn't either, until just now.

Oh, I DID hear mutterings previously about some movie about magicians directed by that bloke who did Batman Begins last year, and starring Batman himself (along with his butler Alfred), Wolverine, Gollum, Ziggy Stardust and Scarlett "Va Va Voom" Johansson. In fact, I think I even saw the trailer once, and thought it was a horror movie. Bleh.

No, it's NOT a horror movie either.

It actually goes like this: Batman and Wolverine are rival magicians, and the whole movie revolves around them doing magic, doing Scarlet Johansson, and doing each ot... er.. I mean OUT-doing each other. Michael Caine just stands around and pretends he's actually in the Batman Begins sequel.

Ok, so the story is slightly more than that, but it's best I don't say too much about it. The less you know about the plot the better. Macam gua. hehe.

Anyway, it's actually a pretty decent watch. I liked it. Intriguing plot. Hot chick. Magic. Suspense. Keeps you guessing (well, it got ME guessing at least). A little on the long side though, but I somehow really didn't feel the length at all. Maybe I was just relieved that I didn't have to watch Nothing is Impossible today (tomorrow STILL gotta go watch. Sigh).

That's it for now. It's Open Season tonight! Woot!



(Update: 11:39pm)

Open season SUCKS. Nuff said.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

The Award-Winning Book Bandwagonist

Sharon posted this little news on Kiran Desai winning the 2006 Man Booker Award for The Inheritance of Loss (I kinda like the title), and some of the commenters were talking about how they tend to buy award-winning books because of the hype.

That got me thinking. How many books do I have that I bought just because they won awards, and how many have I actually READ? I have to admit that fantasy novels aside, I rarely buy litetary novels or even general fiction, for that matter. However, I DO have a score of unread books that I'd bought just because they won awards, and/or was recommended to by more er.. literaturely-inclined friends.

Stuff like:

  • Soul Mountain (Gao Xing Jian) - I actually have both the English AND the Chinese version. Don't ask me to read the Chinese one though. The English one gives me enough of a headache as it is
  • The Life of Pi (Yann Martel) - Based on the feedback from peopel who've read it, you'll either love it or hate it. Personally, I haven't bothered to read it yet. Will probably get to it soon though, right after I finish Gaiman, Lawhead, Moers and Pratchett...
  • A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth) - It's been sitting on my shelf for a few years untouched now because I couldn't get past the first three pages... the mere thought of ploughing through the 1300+ pages makes my head spin...
  • True History of the Kelly Gang (Peter Carey) - I haven't even opened the damn book since I bought it from PayLess for RM9.90... Somehow the book cover reminds me of that interesting but unbeliveably depressing Angela's Ashes (which I also bought and read because it won an award. Sucker betul.)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon) - Ok, I admit I completely forgot I even had this book until I was sorting out my bookshelf in the weekend. And now that I've found it, I'll probably be reading it soon... I'm a sucker for weird book titles after all...
  • White Teeth (Zadie Smith) - Someone gave this to me years ago when I was on a cheap paperback book buying spree and told me, 'YOU HAVE TO READ THIS'. I put it on the booshelf and within a week or so, it got buried by 20 or so Marion Zimmer Bradley and Terry Brooks paperbacks I'd bought from Payless and was promptly forgotten about.

So I'm an award-winning book bandwagonist. So sue me.

To tell the truth, the only award-winning books I've actually bought, read and liked that I can name off the top of my head are Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie), Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri) and Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides).

Maybe I'll eventually get to reading those other unread award-winning books. Maybe I won't. As of now, all they are doing in my house right now is sit on my bookshelf and conning visitors into thinking I'm damn intellectual (well, at least until they see my Transformers comics....)

Monday, 9 October 2006

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
On holiday but cannot get too cozy,
Dare not go out but so damn busy.

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy
Nothing in the fridge but susu basi,
But then wanna go for makan also damn lazy.

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
Stay at home too long can go crazy,
Go out two minutes already damn queasy.

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
Thirty minutes outside breath become wheezy,
One hour later I start to feel damn dizzy.

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
Looking for food outside cannot be too choosy,
If no air-con, head becomes damn woozy.

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
Driving around KL also not easy,
Cannot see road but still got damn kamikaze,

Hazy Hazy Hazy Hazy,
From Ampang Point also cannot see KLCC,
At night also the lights damn blur and fuzzy.


Related posts: Busy Busy Busy Busy...

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Book Review: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear (Walter Moers)

Wow, this is the third weekend in a row I've posted a book review. At this rate, I can take the 'Hopefully' off the 'Hopefully-Weekly Book Review'...

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Title: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
Author: Walter Moers

Synopsis:
Unlike cats, bluebears have 27 lives, which can be very handy when one considers the manner in which the hero of this story repeatedly manages to avoid death only by a paw's breadth. The story describes Captain Bluebear's first 13 and a half lives in a world as far removed from our own as can possibly be imagined - mysterious Zamonia.

What I Liked:
  • So many crazy scenarios, so much to love
  • So many crazy characters, so much to love
  • I love the way he uses different font sizes to illustrate distance and all
  • Boom BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM
  • I love the way he ties up everything from front to back all over the place
  • LOADS of whacky lines, characters and plots, all tied up nicely into one great and entertaining story

What I didn't like
  • Not much I didn't like, really.
  • Well, sometimes I got a little annoyed when I had to turn back to look for things I may have missed, when it is referenced at the back.

Summary:
Even though I took so damn long to finish this book, it wasn't because it's not a good read. On the contrary, it's been my 'bedtime read' for the past month or so - I read about 20-30 pages each day before I went to sleep.

This book was immensely enjoyable, not least because of the simple way Moers writes, but also the crazily imaginative things he comes up with. From Dimensional Hiatus', Bolloggs, Eternal Tornados, Minipirates and so on, he throws everything and the kitchen sink into the book, telling the story of Bluebear.

Best part of the book is not just the vast craziness of it all, it's also the way he uses stuff from all over the book, beginning middle and end in the story. Something that is written in one two paragraphs in the beginning suddenly becomes a plot turning element in the end, and what the characters Bluebear meets always seem to turn up later on, for better or worse.

This could be confusing if not done properly, but happily, Moers pulls off the feat of throwing in an INSANE amount of weird and crazy stuff, and YET manage to tie everything up into on nice coherant plot.

EVERYONE should read this book. It's one of the best examples of insane creativity harnessed into one really entertaining book, and is a HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES better than anything Rowling has ever written or even WANTS to write...

It's now one of my most FAVORITE children's books EVER, and since the one I read was borrowed, I think I'll go buy one for myself... (I saw this book and his follow-up - Rumo - in Kinokuniya).

GO GO GO GO READ IT!

Friday, 6 October 2006

Martin Cons Song Readers with Dreams

So... I'm off today. Not supposed to be at work. Am not at office even. And what do I find myself doing?

W.O.R.K.I.N.G.

Oh well, at least I get to work from home this time, and I even get to go eat my favorite Taman Melawati Chicken Rice for lunch instead of the same old places around my office. WHEE!

Anyway, I was in Kinokuniya (AGAIN) looking for Wintersmith (AGAIN), when I spied THIS name screaming at me from the New Arrivals bookshelf:

GEORGE R. R. MARTIN

Wooot! I've been waiting for this book for a year already! So... I GRABBED the book off the shelf, WALKED towards the counter, TOOK OUT my wallet and was about to hand it over to the casher when I checked the cover of the book, and realised that the title of the book was:



DREAMSONGS?!?!?!?!

WHERE IS A DANCE WITH DRAGONS?!?!?! This isn't the Song of Ice and Fire book, its a bloody book of short stories!!!!! ARRRRGH!!!!

In fact, I found out later that the full title of the book is Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective. Gee whiz, what a clever play on the two RR's in your name, George. Now get cracking on A Dance With Dragons already.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Idea block/ Scary wheels/ Bad Grammar/ Broken Coffee Press/ Shaun/ Wintersmith/ Spectacle Chicks/ Lainie

I actually thought yesterday was a Tuesday.

Transcribing two-hour long interviews not good for mental state I tell you. Especially when the interviewees are about as exciting as dried dung. SAME TONE all the way, until I couldn't even tell where the sentence started and where it ended. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZz...............

While I'm still talking about work, I need ideas. I'm running out of ideas. Writer's block? NAH. Writing I got no problem. See, I'm already writing here, can blog samore.

It's more of an IDEA block. It's like I can't think of anything to write about that hasn't already been done before. Not just at work, but on the blog also. Which explains this inane free-writing ramble.

GAH. Somebody gimme an idea! ANY IDEA!


***************


I need to go fix my damn car. the left wheel is making strange noises everytime I turn right. Turn left that time no sound, but when turning right suddenly got KAKAKAKAKAKAKAK sound. Damn scary ok? Like the wheel going to fall off liddat.


***************


PPS is getting very annoying. Full of inane blogs that can't even get their grammar right. There is SO SUCH THING AS 'A Laughter A Day' ok? Grammar FAIL! How to get job at multi-national company liddat har? England tak pass!

Speaking of jobs, my brother forwarded me a resume from someone applying for an IT job at his company. Under employment history, the fella wrote something like:

Company: Printing company
Job Function: Stripping (entry level)

-_-"

That's not all, under the question 'Why should we hire you?' where you're supposed to try and convince the employer and kiss ass a little by saying how HONOURED you would be to work for them and how you would work TWENTY HOURS a day for MINIMUM PAY and that you're a BERTANGGUNGJAWAB And BERDEDIKASI employee who would never let you down (wahlau, I feel like I'm writing a Pendidikan Moral essay), the fella went and wrote this classic line:

"I WILL WORK FOR YOU... PLEASE CALL ME..."

......

....

-_-"""""

And they wonder why so many graduates can't get jobs...


***************


Dropped my beloved "Give Up Bad Coffee for Good" coffee press on the floor yesterday, watched it bounce up and down a while, picked it up only to see that there was a huge bloody crack down the inside wall, causing coffee to leak into the thermal gap between the outer and inner walls. So now after I've poured my coffee out, there is still a tiny film of coffee caught in the gap that swirls around making it look like there is still some coffee in it, like one of those gag beer mugs. Gah. And I'd only had that one for a few months.

Went to San Francisco Coffee at Mid Valley yesterday to get a new one, but they were out of stock. But the dude at the counter helped me call up the three SF Coffees closest to my home and office - Ampang Point, KLCC and 1 Utama - to find out where I could get one so that I won't have to hit each store one by on on a wild coffee-press chase.

San Francisco Coffee rocks, yo! Getting my new coffee press at 1 UTama today, woot!


***************


I want a Shaun of The Dead action figure. WAAAA!


***************


Wintersmith not out yet. GAAAH!


***************


At Mid Valley yesterday, went shopping for glasses with Erna yesterday, the second time in a week that I've had to accompany someone to go buy glasses. What am I, the official spectacle-shopping companion?

Then Erna goes and says, "Well, you ARE the guy with a fetish for girls in glasses..."

-_-""""""

Hey, chicks with glasses ARE hot ok? They make her look extra sexy, especially when paired with a white shirt lalala... hehe


***************


Like Suanie says, Lainie-type posts really ARE very effective. Very good for when you have no idea what to blog about but just wanna blog whatever you're thinking about at the moment.

Everyone should trying doing a Lainie! Er. A Lainie-type post I mean.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

An Iron Sea Reindeer Lights Razors in Sam's Town

Ahhhh, another month, another four albums er... 'acquired'. Here's what I have on my trusty old iPod shuffle right now:




First up, The Killers. I bought the Sam's Town CD last night (yes, I DO buy CDs from time to time), and based on the first few listens of the entire album, I kinda like this better than Hot Fuss.

I've said before that some of the songs on Hot Fuss sounded TOO retro 80's-Duran-Duran for me, but here, it's not that bad. One or two songs seem a little off though, but overall I kinda like it. Two songs that stood out for me are When You Were Young (obviously, since I'd already been listening to it before I even got the album. I like the intro. :D), and Uncle Jonny (catchy and dark at the same time).

Next up, Razorlight. Not a bad album, with a few catchy songs, but not exactly THAT memorable either. My favorite is LA Waltz, the chorus is damn catchy.

Then there's Keane. It's been out for a few months now, but I only got around to er.. 'acquiring' the full album recently. I have to say I like it more than their debut. At least this one doesn't make me want to fall asleep...

And finally, there's The Reindeer Section's Son of Evil Reindeer. No, it's not some Scandinavian band singing Christmas songs, but it's actually a cool collaboration between TWENTY-SEVEN musicians from UK, headed by Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, and including some members of Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, and Teenage Fanclub among others.

It's actually quite an old album, from 2002 actually, way before Run or Chasing Cars. A friend gave me this album to er... 'sample' and I've been listening to it over and over again the past day (up till I got The Killers, that is, after which I listened to BOTH albums over and over again). Nice acoustic vibe to it, really nice melodies, and overall, a nice album.

My first impression so far is that this album sounds like a record full of stripped down versions of Snow Patrol's Run and Chasing Cars (in fact, all the songs are written by Lightbody). If you like Snow Patrol, or heck, even Kings of Convenience, you'll probably like this as well...

Well, that's what I think anyway. :D

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Welcome To The Duck Side....

Egads! somebody get me one of these!


(Image taken from IWantOneOfThose.com)



This Duck Fadar will be a perfect match with my Darth Tater...

Monday, 2 October 2006

How to Give up Bad Coffee For Good: An Expert Guide

Recently, while being in a caffeine-deprived state and having had one too many weak-Nescafe 3-in-1's over the years, I decided to bite the beans and buy me a proper French Press to make PROPER coffee.

So, I hopped on over to San Francisco Coffee (no way I'm getting anything from Starsucks or Kopi Bin), and got myself a Bodum French Press in a tumbler (to keep my coffee hot!) and some ground coffee beans.

I love that tumbler. Not only does it ensure that I don't have to take Nescafe 3-in-1 anymore, it also has this sentence in BIG BIG LETTERS around it:

GIVE UP BAD COFFEE FOR GOOD!!!

Ramen to that!

So, ahem, with new coffee-making device in hand, I shall now demonstrate how to make a nice cuppa coffee, the Eyeris way!

First of all, this is what I bought:



Bodum French Press/tumbler, 250g of Indian Monsoon ground coffee beans, and a bottle of Torani Hazelnut flavoured syrup.

I've been trying different types of coffee beans in the past few weeks. I've tried Mexican, French Roast, Kenyan, Costa Rican and now, Indian Monsoon. So far my favorite is the Costa Rican - it is SO smooth. Me likey.

Anyway, first up, pour the ground coffee beans into the tumbler:



Make sure you don't pour TOO MUCH, unless you wanna end up chewing damp ground coffee instead of drinking coffee:



Oh, and make sure that the coffee beans you pour in are grounded and meant for use with a French Press. WHOLE coffee beans won't be much use in a French Press... -_-"

Next, of course, pour in the hot water, and then STIR to make sure the coffee is well-distributed:



And then put the cap on.

Er, remember to put the cap on with the 'plunger' (no, not the one used with plumbing appliances, EWww.) raised lar. You don't need to press it just yet...



Now, leave the damn tumbler alone for the coffee to be ready, and now let's turn our attention to the coffee CUP, shall we?

My USUAL coffee cup in the office is one of those shiny stainless steel mugs that you can get from the pasar malam (although I bought that particular one in POLAND of all places). I like those mugs. They're cool. But they make a damn huge racket if you crop it on the floor. Well, at least they don't shatter into a million pieces of tiny china or glass.

AAAANYWAY, back to the coffee.

I like MY coffee with a lot of milk. So naturally, put milk lor...



If you like sugar, with your coffee, by all means, put some as well. Me, I don't put THAT much sugar, but since I have my Torani Hazelnut syrup, I shall put THAT instead...



Yum yum. My very own cup of coffee with hazelnut flavour. Yum.

Now, after all that, the coffee should be ready to be poured.

First, of course, press the plunger down so you push the ground coffee beans to the BOTTOM and makes sure it stays there (so you won't be chewing ground coffee together with your drink. Orange juice with sacs is good. Coffee with bits of coffee beans floating around is not).



And now, the final step: POUR THE COFFEE!



And VOILA! MY very own cup of GOOD coffee, made at home! woot woot!



Now, the only downside to making coffee like this is the cleaning up afterwards. The coffee beans at the bottom of the tumbler is damn messy to clean. Sigh. Oh well, no pain no gain eh? At least I don't have to drink Nescafe 3-in-1 anymore (unless I'm too broke to buy coffee beans lor...)...

Now, let's all sing the Eyeris Coffee Song together-gether.. ah one, ah two, ah one two three:

COFFEE! I LIKE TO DRINK, COOOFFEEEE!!!!!! LALALA!!!

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Book Review: Heart of the Mirage (Glenda Larke)

Another weekend, another book review. I'm really starting to get my book reviewing groove back, yup yup. Don't complain, this IS a book blog after all...

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Title: Heart of the Mirage (Book 1 of The Mirage Makers)
Author: Glenda Larke

Synopsis:
The Exaltarch rules the Tyranian Empire through force and a network of spies known as the Brotherhood. In KArdiastan, Tyrans have forced out the Magor ruling class and imposed their own leaders.

Ligea Gayea, one of the top agents of the Brotherhood, is ordered to find a Kardiastan rebel leader and bring him to justice. A Straightforward enough assignment for her, but all Ligea finds is mystery upon mystery. The rebels seem able to come and go at will, and any attempt to pursue them across the desert ends in disaster.

Ligea has to face her own demons and her own violent past to discover the secrets of Kardiastan...

What I liked:
  • Some cool scenarios, like crossing The Mirage
  • Even has some social commentary that got to me a little
  • The ending sets up an intriguing follow-up

What I didn't like:
  • Plot and characters seem a little TOO predictable
  • A little too slow in the beginning
  • Too much mushy mushy bits! Gah!
  • Somehow, I didn't really like Ligea as a main character. A bit too 'uppity' for my liking.
  • The first person perspective makes it too convenient for the main character to just 'wonder aloud' her thoughts, as if she is INFORMING the reader.

Summary:

The pace of the book, while a little slow in the beginning, does pick up halfway through the book, and by the end of the book, it does get interesting. However, somehow while reading the book, I kinda felt a little bit of deja vu, like I've read some of it here and there before.

In some parts, this book reminded me of a RPG-based fantasy books I've read before, what with all the romance, the sex, and the somewhat predictable characters and plot twists.

Of course, this is a rather straightforward fantasy novel. A rather linear plot (with a few deviations here and there), a rather er.. predictable heroine and supporting characters, some required magic, flashbacks, history and all... it does seem a little been there done that at times, unfortunately. There ARE bits and a few nice touches here and there that I really liked in the book, but overall, I'd have to reserve judgement on the series until the other books come out. Because IMHO, the first book unfortunately just does not have the strength to stand alone on its own.