Monday, October 31, 2005

31 Days Later

On 01 December, there shall be an article in my blog titled “Aching Hero” which is definitely not a Legend & obviously no condors are harmed in the process of writing. Shortly, it will be about me celebrating the completion of my first novel. Plus the recurrent aches in my wrist. Heh.

Or a post with a caption “I tried my best. I couldn’t make it. Yeah, I’m a failure.” which will have the shortest content ever in my blog that is “Please refer to the tittle.”

The outlook doesn’t augur well for November. I’ll be extremely busy at my workplace. But many are as busy as I am—if not busier—but they still can make it. So I should not wail & use the excuse of my work. Right? Right…

That’s the logic. I’ll just have to ensure it’s firmly glued in my mind.

There are 2 participants that I’ll look up as a role model in term of their passion in writing regardless of their tight schedules. Yup, ladies…so you’d better be the NaNoWriMo winners this year too. ;-)

The links to their websites (Thanks for the permission!) are shown under “NaNoWriMo-tioners:”.

Friday, October 28, 2005

My Game Plan.

I’m sure as habits dictate it, I’ll look back at this article one day and cuss “You’ve got to be KIDDING me!

As per today, though, my plan for having my 50,000-word novel completed for NaNoWriMo is as follows:
- the first 3 days for brainstorming the plot & characters.
- 20 days for letting the ideas ooze through the tips of my fingers.
- taking 1-day break & hoping my mind is crystal clear for me to:
- read and check how (good) the completed novel is (about 5 days) and
- the final day for deciding the title.

Failure to accomplish this task will mean an instant humiliation with me being the first to berate myself. Failure is therefore not an option. I’m a nasty scolder. Bah to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. This Congreve guy is obviously living in the past (No Duh. He was living in the past. Between the late 17th & early 18th century to be precise & his play of “The Mourning Bride” has popularized that proverb & cast fear among those backboneless men who couldn't reject a woman's love).

Anyway, on a serious note, by the end of next month, I should know whether I will make a good writer. Uhm, or at least a writer. And whether I enjoy writing. That's going to be my main objective.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Counting down for NaNoWriMo.

To myself on November-days to come: Stop reading & start writing, man!

Weird? Nah, just being my usual self.
Who wish that a day may consist of more than 24 hours.

Or at least give me a Groundhog Day to accomplish what I want to achieve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Critic's Pick - Mine!

Did anybody watch the Critic’s Pick: “Arrested Development” at the Arts Central TV last night?

After checking from the Net, I realized that the yesterday episode “Sad Sack” was of Season 2. Even though I had no idea about the series, it was still very much entertaining. There was this part when a character, a 19-year-old Steve, whom both Maeby and her mother Lindsay liked, was introduced.

It was briefly, yet effectively done.

The voice-over stated that Steve was Maeby’s senior in the school, the final year student and had been so for the last 3 years. Then one after another, the 3 year-end students’ books profiling the name, the photo, and the student’s message was shown; the focus was on Steve.

The first photo of the first year-end book featured him making a funny, grinning face with a note: “I’m outta here!”.

Next had him with another pose of unconcealed joy again and the brief message: “So long, suckers!”

The last one was a contrast: Steve looked sad & pouted in the photo with his solemn advice: “Study hard, guys—Trust me on this.”

What a laugh.

Anyway, I’m looking forward for the next week episodes. And who knows, perhaps, one day the Critic’s Pick program of the Arts Central will feature “South Park”. Heh.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fables and Reflections...

...which is the title of The Sandman graphic novel Vol. 6.

Just put in a reservation this elusive, ehm, art book yesterday.

I was hunting for it last Saturday at the Ang Mo Kio library. Naught.
Couldn’t find the book although the library online system said the book was not on loan.

Nevertheless, the trip was not a complete waste as I managed to get The Sandman Vol. 5 “A Game of You”—featuring Princess Barbara, or Barbie actually—and “The Sandman Companion” that contains thorough analyses about individual novels as well as interviews with the ingenious author, Neil Gaiman.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Card's Unfold.

In one of my earlier articles, I mentioned about the author Orson Scott Card and some of his books that appeal to me.

His fame was actually started with his novel “Ender’s Game” originally written as a short story.

The book deals with how the Earth prepares to face the invasion by ant-like aliens. The Battle School has been built at the outer space and the selected few, highly gifted children are sent there to be educated in terms of strategy, leadership, and especially creativity in combatting the buggers (Yeah, that’s how they call the aliens).

The protagonist is a boy, Andrew Wiggins whose nickname is Ender. And "Ender’s Game" is about how he copes with the pressures in the Battle School and how he—unknowingly--defeats the buggers.

The author smartly span another story that converges to the same denouement with Ender’s Game. The story focuses on Bean, who is the most talented kid of Ender’s Jeesh (Jeesh = the group of Battle School kids under Ender’s leadership during the final conflict with the aliens).

The series then split to what happens to Ender after defeating the buggers. The setting is mostly at the outer space and the books are “Speaker for the Dead”, “Xenocide” and “Children of the Mind”.

While at the same time, the books “Shadow of the Hegemon”, “Shadow Puppets”, and “Shadow of the Giant” are about Bean and Ender’s older brother Peter in their attempt to bring some order to the Earth. After the alien threat is neutralized, the Earth nations revert to their belligerent stance. The complication is later introduced with the Battle School children returning to their own countries and serving their nations in fighting others. Having a common enemy—especially when humanity is at stake--is indeed a unifying factor.

I find it more enjoyable to read Bean’s plot line than Ender’s three subsequent sequels as the former offers plenty of (clever) manipulations and political intrigues that I could easily relate to the Real World. So is it cryptic enough to tempt you to read the books? Heh. Go ahead then. Read them. :-)

But do start with "Ender’s Game".

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lost in "Hotel California"

While I could conjure a story from "A Whiter Shade of Pale" song--even if it's proven to be wrong--I, however, could not do the same for "Hotel California".

Still the song amazes me. The lyric completely stupefies me. Not understanding what the heck some of the verses trying to say might play a part.

For example:
- "Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends"
Uhm, right...Tiffany-twisted? Mercedes bends?

- "What a nice surprise, bring your alibis"
What has a nice surprise got to do with alibis?

- "They gathered for the feast / They stab it with their steely knives, / But they just can't kill the beast"
They eat what they kill? Raw? Or I'm just being too damn literal here? *sigh*

- "Last thing I remember, I was / Running for the door / I had to find the passage back / To the place I was before"
&
- "You can checkout any time you like, / But you can never leave!"
These two parts present the puzzling climax. So what happens to the "I" in the song? Does he or does he not manage to escape from the Hotel?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What is the colour of Fear?

With the 5/10 Kingdom article, thus the Yellow Ribbon project for much-maligned Wolf persona is ended.

Previously, I mentioned how I was amused about the 10th Kingdom’s mushrooms which sing “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.

This is because it is one of the songs, which always mystifies me (Oh, another one would be “Hotel California”).

What is “A Whiter Shade of Pale” really about?

The lyric goes like this:

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

And this is how I interpret the song:
“I” in the song is a wanderer (“feeling kinda seasick”? He travels a lot & knows how "seasick" feels like) who happens to come across a tavern & indulging in a music & dance. With a charming girl whom he just befriends or perhaps flirts a bit (it’s a fandango after all, right?).

The perplexing part is introduced by the second stanza. It may hold some importance as this part is kept repeating throughout the song. To continue from the previous stanza, so the Guy & Girl are out of their breath dancing & now rest while sipping their drink & listening to the miller telling his story. Something about the tale evidently scares the girl (“her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale”. The colour of fear?)

In the third stanza, our attentive wanderer likely shows his concern by asking her why. Consequently the answer "There is no reason and the truth is plain to see." Which truth is plain to see? Now I imagine the sentence “and would net her be one of sixteen vestal virgins” have to do with the miller’s tale. (And that the wanderer is a bit slow in realizing that the girl is one of the sixteen. If he has known it earlier, there won’t be a need to ask the girl & for the girl to snap "the truth is plain to see".)

Anyway, what does "vestal" mean? According to Wordweb, it “relates to Vesta”, “(Roman mythology) goddess of the hearth and its fire whose flame was tended by vestal virgins; counterpart of Greek Hestia”.

Okay, to think that the miller’s tale frightens the girl who’s apparently going to be one of those vestal virgins, I deduce that the tale must be horrific by nature. Perhaps the job scope of so-called vestal virgins with regard to "tending the Goddess' flame" means the girls are to be burnt alive?

So sick!

Anyway, I am touched by the last two sentences “and although my eyes were open, they might have just as well've been closed”. I take it as an expression of how frustrated the wanderer must feel as he may have fallen in love with the girl & yet he is powerless to prevent her fate to be the mere fuel to the fire.

So I like the song coz I’m compelled to think about the above possibility to create some meaning out of the song.

Searching the Net, this site offers an alternative & more credible explanation & at the same time proves my intrepretation is utterly wrong. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The 5/10 Kingdom.

The Half Kingdom? Nope, it was I trying to find an information about a TV miniseries. The title was actually the 10th Kingdom, but I somehow was so sure that it's the 5th Kingdom.

So I started the hunt with “the 5th Kingdom” as the keyword. The Yahoo search results no.4 revealed the URL that has “10kingdoms” phrase. Ah, so it’s “the 10th Kingdom”.

The 10th Kingdom! This show has the right mixture of fairy tales go twisted—not that dark, mind you--and balanced with beautiful scenery. But what intrigues me most is about one of the characters that eventually & completely reforms. Yup, the Wolf again.

True as a how a fairy tale goes, there is also a regular, modern girl who is transformed into a heroine (not that she has any choice) together with his good-for-nothin’ (oh, he's good at wailing & complaining, though!) dad who is dragged along to the adventure.

You’ve got to watch it! The absurdly funny parts I can recall are:
- The mushrooms which sing “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.
- The shepherdess singing competition, in which, the heroine Virginia adopts the Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.
- The deadly guessing-name game between Virginia’s father & the blind woodsman.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Annotation to Previous Entry.

1. “For that, I can outsource the task to a certain noble (debatable, depending which version you read) Fable character, which is proficient at huffing & puffing.”

I was referring to Bigby Wolf, a reformed Big Bad Wolf character in Vertigo’s Fables graphic novels, which I unfortunately have read only the Volume III: Storybook Love.

In this volume, it was revealed that the wolf in "Three Little Pigs" & "Little Red Riding Hood" tales is the very same character. Ha, I never even think about that possibility.

Interesting to note from the Wikipedia link above is that I was not aware that there is a version of "Three Little Pigs" tale in which the wolf was finally killed & eaten by the third little prick, uhm, pig.

Now I wonder whether there's been any speculative story out there that ever tries to link that resourceful pig with the revolutionary (to some extent) Snowball & Napoleon in George Orwell's Animal Farm.

2. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Of course, this refers to what Rhett Butler’s snappy retort to apparently clingy(?) Scarlett in the classic “Gone with the Wind”. Well, I have not read the book yet. So I will restrain not to judge how the story goes just from the quotes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Why Should I Give A Damn?

I was rather irked recently. I was advised to be careful in what/how I write in my blog as I may be judged by certain female readers concerning my level of cynicism (abundant!), intelligence (questionable), openness (wrong blog, lady!) & friendliness (got to look up this word in a dictionary).

I was not disturbed by the person who cautioned me that.
Oh, he meant well & I truly appreciated it.

What I was annoyed is why it should matter. Do I really intend to use my blog to sweep the girls off their feet? For that, I can outsource the task to a certain noble (debatable, depending which version you read) Fable character, which is proficient at huffing & puffing.

This. Is. My. Blog.

And whether people are impressed or not? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. If people try to judge me based on what I write in my blog, help yourself with a generous serving of horror & repulsion.

Gosh, if you want to play a fair judge, do read my comments in those blogs that I visit.

I never claimed myself as a blogger. I registered a nick so that I could have an accountable identity when I posted a comment here & there (and like a virus, it will spread. Beware! Although till now I don’t get any restraining order, so I guess I’m doing pretty well myself. Heh.)

I write, or blog, because it makes me closer to finding myself.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Within every reader, there is a writer lurking to emerge.

Hence my participation to NaNoWriMo.

Yeah, just registered yesterday. Ooo...let's see the end of next month--you'll start the race on 1 Nov & to complete the 50,000-word novel by 30 Nov--if I can finish composing that. Or die in trying. :-)

The icon (Not bad, huh? Just below the "I Power Blogger" one) should serve as a self-reminder to do the task.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit.

Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.

Encountered this yesterday when I was skimming The Sandman, Book X: The Wake.
(Now who says we can’t learn from comics or graphic novels? Heh)

I had been pondering on this sentence since.

I mean, knowing and understanding are two different matters. I know that in the past, some Roman wise guy might start popularizing this sentence. Hmm…maybe after conquering other kingdoms, when they tried to pacify the crestfallen natives?

Okay, as usual, I’m digressing.
It was not my intention to delve into the origin of the saying.

The point is how to understand. How to grasp the wisdom of the saying? That is if you agree at the first place, that Omnia-Mutantur-Nihil-Interit thing is indeed a gem of truth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What Age Do You Act? (Rated: PG)

I'm amused with how people turn to online questionnaires to find out more about themselves. Alright, it doesn't do any harm. It's just for fun. But I'm still amused.

Take this one for example. It's about "What Age Do You Act?"

You'll go through a set of questions & in the end you'll be given an assessment & explanation about your (mental?) age.

The interesting part is all the answers are so rosy. Everyone won't help but feel good about themselves. So, let me present the twisted & sadly, more realistic interpretations of the result.

The black text below are the original heartwearming explanation. The blue text within the blue brackets are mine. :-)



Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe. (But not for long. You can’t be a kid forever. What, think you this is a Neverland? Get ready to flirt with disappointment, kiddo.)

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world. (Your subversive view will lead you to a place of your own: a prison. You’ll become famous. But at what cost?)

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences. (That’s your problem. You feel. You don’t think.)

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more! (Lack of idealism will trip you to reap success illegally & your greed of true love will be the cause of your divorce as you’re seeking it—the true love—from more than one person.)

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax. (What else can you do? You no longer have optimistic views about life. You no longer look at the world with awe. You finally become a compliant citizen. You are a sharp thinker. Yet you feel like a baby trying to run. You are bankrupt & divorced.)


Monday, October 10, 2005

Being able to forgive yourself: Priceless!

Last Friday, I finally met the friends whom one of them was deeply upset by my insensitivity (Heh, and some still claim that I’m oversensitive. :-\ ).

Sure, it was just an innocent misunderstanding.
No malice whatsoever, oh nossir.

But the by-product was she getting sad. So for that, I was hit by guilt.

Anyway, it’s o-v-e-r. I could observe throughout the dinner that they were enjoying themselves. So it is possible for such a perfect couple to continue being good friends even after a break-up.

The dinner was originally meant just for the three of us. I was thinking to drink for a while (it’s at Brewerkz & the beer is its speciality), and then left two of them to have a quiet chat to clear out whatever residual problems they had.

That didn’t happen.

They invited their friends to come along. Perhaps it was for the best. We did have great fun together. Although I for one was rather hurt & relieved at the same time seeing my ex gf joining us.

Hurt as she couldn’t be bothered to inform me that her problem was eventually over (and this was despite the fact that she knew how much I worried about her). I deduced that she solved it as she came with her boyfriend (A great guy. She made a right choice!).

Relieved as her bf treated her well. Very, very well. Then wouldn’t it be redundant to shake his hand & told him to take a good care of her? Then again, it might not as I did give an or-else-I-will-hunt-you-down histrionic pause in the end of that sentence.

So, that chapter of my life...I could close it.
About time to move on. Way overdue.

When I contemplated about the night, I realized I was truly forgiven by my friend and his ex. By them making that night a memorable one.

My friend, he invited a magnetic lady teacher whose teacher-like patience was evident whenever she had to answer the FAQ of what she did for living & how long she had been teaching.

I managed to decipher her blog identity immediately (Please, you can’t hide that sparklingly rich smile by just changing your hairstyle). She did know mine after two guesses, though.

The teacher in turn invited her friend who unfortunately came rather late. His antic of ‘she-loves-me, she-loves-me-not’ was hilarious.

My friend’s ex had her friend to join us, who adopted a name "Ice"--coz we can't pronounce his name? Cool & sober & I almost made him pay for the whole bill as he’s the only one who adamantly acted cool & sober after those drinks. *grin*

She also invited along my ex & her bf. Enough said.

A reclusive—-but unarguably nice & decent-—friend of mine also joined us. He initiated the exciting bamboo game. Alas, his blog identity was unmasked as well by the teacher (she is good!).

Uhm...it’s not intended to be a gathering just for bloggers. So I won’t reveal their nicks here. Oh well, maybe next time! ;-)

Edit No.1:
In hindsight, I may be slightly tipsy myself. As I couldn't recall the girls started sniffing the smell of burning matches. Read more.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Book that I Hate to Read, I Want to Re-Read.

Yesterday night, the usual routine of haunting the nearest library, I felt an urge to stop at the rack for books whose authors’ surname started with CAR.

Absent-mindedly, I picked up a book "Seventh Son" by Orson Scott Card. Hmm, I’ve read this one many, many times.

I browsed the list of books by the author. Stopped at "Lost Boys".
Yup, I remember this one too.

I remember the general outline of the story. I wish I could forget about it. The book is rich with sadness--which would only be apparent in the ending part. (How could it be rich with sadness if it is only apparent in the ending part? Go & figure it out yourself by reading it.)

It’s rather unusual of me to read that kind of genre.[1]

I wish I could borrow the book.
I just want to see exactly whether the similar feeling can be evoked.[2]

Footnote:
1. Then why did I choose to read it at the first place? Well, I’m hooked with the author’s works. I read "Seventh Son", "Prentice Alvin", "Alvin Journeyman" & "Heartfire"--book I, III, IV and V of Alvin Maker storyline respectively. I managed to hunt for book II: "Red Prophet" at a second-hand bookstore. And now, I’m eyeing for the latest (final?) instalment: "The Crystal City". [2]

2. If you manage to borrow it from the library, kindly lend me. Please. :-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Queue of the Lemmings.

And I was one of them.

Noticed an advertisement in the paper telling that a certain credit card issuer treated the card users with a pair of free tickets.

The collection of the tix would start on 3 p.m. that Sunday.

Plenty of time, so I hung around the library looking for a corner to finish savouring "Cat’s Cradle", a book by Kurt Vonnegut. Couldn’t find a place to seat, but managed to borrow "The Sandman: The Dream Hunters", though (narrated by Neil Gaiman—again, yay! —and illustrated by the talented Yoshitaka Amano).

Decided to go to the food court to read. Felt hungry, instead.

On 1 p.m., after having lunch there, I visited the cinema to take a look at what time the show would be.

Surprisingly, the queue had already been formed!
And to think that the counter for the collection for the tickets was still closed?!
Hallo, people? You’ve got 2 hours of your precious Sunday to be wasted like this?

I could spit with disgust at their greediness.
I could admire their persistence.
I could curse the credit card issuer by half-heartedly rewarding the card users (Didn’t the company know that they could just send the tickets to the card users?)
I could praise the credit card issuer coz the company was able to reward AND to create publicity at the same time (The queue made the onlookers wonder what the queue was all about).

Yet I decided to queue as well.
So I did have 2 hours of my precious Sunday to be wasted like this. * sigh *

But I had a book with me (two, in fact) & I could read the books while queuing, couldn’t I? Not that I had other schedules, that is.

In the end, "Cat’s Cradle" was finished (A bit disappointed with how the story was ended). Heh, still I was proud of myself to be able to utilize a book as a time machine to help me pass the 2-hour waiting swiftly.

It would otherwise be a humiliating queue.
Or perhaps it was, but I might be too engrossed with the book to be aware of it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Spam Me...Yes!

To continue the experiment: this article ought to be spammed as I'm going to 'edit' the article after publishing it.

Sit & watch...
* edit *

Spam Me...Not!

Okay, I think I've figured it out why I was spammed apparently more than the rest of the bloggers & why it was only for certain articles.

For those articles that were spam-free, I didn't do any 'editing' once I published them.

So the trick is to revise, revise, and revise the entry--yup, the curse of a perfectionist--before clicking the "Publish Post" button.

Let me test the hypothesis with this article.
Have no spam, I say!