Monday, February 27, 2006

When a door is not a door.

Yeah, when? I did know this puzzle once when reading Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower IV) by Stephen King.

Anyway in my relentless search of the book in the library--coz while I knew about the question, I've forgotten about the answer--I managed to come across the hard cover edition of the book, printed by Donald M. Grant publisher, Inc. I browsed through and found the answer of the puzzle and its significance to the story. (How could I forget it? :-( And no, I wont’ state the answer and its significance here.)

I also realized that the illustrations were impressive and sort-of familiar. Checked the front page and I noticed that the artist was Dave McKean.

My exposure with Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman graphic novels has introduced me with the artworks of many gifted artists, one of which was McKean.

I wondered whether McKean was employed consistently for the whole Dark Tower series. So I took another Dark Tower book. Not the hardcover edition. Nope. There were no full-colour illustrations within.

I took another. This one by the same publisher. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah. There were 10 full-colour illustrations, not by McKean but by Darrel Anderson. Not bad. There were two in particular that I was impressed. The ones who used the shattered mirror effect (I’m not sure what the right term is. Imagine the artist is drawing on a piece of mirror and once it’s completed, you put a dynamite behind the mirror and explode it. Freeze the exploding splinters immediately after the explosion, just enough to have the whole drawing recognized but with a dynamic effect of separation).

Now I finally understand why certain people prefer collecting books of certain series by a particular publisher.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Tribute to Karl May – Happy Birthday…Tomorrow!

I won’t claim myself to be a bibliophile. Sure, I love books. But to collect them? That, I’ll keep aside as a dream. One day, a library of my own with a proud display of books of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Bernard Cornwall, Terry Pratchett, and…Karl May.

Yup, Karl May was the author who was responsible in establishing my reading pattern. Very simple. I read a book by an author, called A. If I like that book, I’ll then try A's other writings.

I read the books by Karl May during my school holidays. A long holiday in a slow-moving city (Ah, the good old slow-moving city!). Didn’t have much to do and I wondered to a local library near my school.

Since the library didn’t have much collection of books, I was not having the luxury of choices. Thus when I came across the books written by Karl May, what I thought was “Well, this author is sure prolific. If I like one of his books, I might like the rest and then, I would have a lot to read.”

Simple thinking, eh? Well, that's me.

Anyway, I borrowed the book and I was disappointed when I read the content. It was in Bahasa Indonesia, but using the archaic mode of spelling. We have this so-called “Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan” whereby all the spellings are formalized for written purpose. True, the archaic mode was not really that difficult to understand. Just a bit troublesome.

So I started devouring the book without much difficulty and soon found myself addicted to the Wild West adventures of the characters Old Shatterhand, a greenhorn cowboy who soon found himself famous because of his punch and his use of a special riffle that allowed more bullets to be shot (seemed that it was still an experimental one and not widely available. Otherwise it’s going to be a Bloody and Messy West if all cowboys were to be trigger-happy with their own machine guns) and his blood brother Winnetou, an Indian of Apache tribe. Books after books. I could easily lose myself into their stories. Sigh.

Sad to say, though, Karl May’s books are not that popular in Singapore. Or not popular at all. :( I couldn’t find them in the libraries here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the Quest of Dune.

A certain wise someone in the past once said something about how when you’re in the midst of difficulties, there is always something that can cheer you up.

In hindsight, I’m telling myself that I am not in such difficulty. I think I’ve successfully defragmented my badly clustered mind, no thanks to the virus called Confusion. Oh, the virus lies dormant, I guess. No one can tell whether the virus will one day spring to life to re-fragment my already well clustered mind. The likely event that can nudge the virus awake is what my friend coins as “extrospecting”.

Inject some trivia here: while “extrospective” does exist, “extrospecting” does not. Enough digressing, I was not in such difficulty. Ergo, I didn’t deserve anything that could cheer me up.

Still my mood was lifted yesterday by what some might have considered instead as an irritating incident.

I was at the entrance of the library checking with the machine that would display the list of books that one borrowed and their due dates once the bar code of my card was scanned.

There are two such machines side by side. I used one of them. I positioned my card so that the bar code could be read. Nil. I flashed my card. Up, down. Left, right. Repeatedly. Still nothing. The list of books that I borrowed and the due dates refused to appear.

I glanced at the machine beside me while persevering my futile routine of flashing the card to the machine in front of me. That other machine was used by this lady, who was doing exactly like what I did. Flashing her card desperately to the machine in front of her. Up, down. Left, right.

Something about the situation just tickled me; I couldn’t help but laughing & commenting to her “Let’s see whose data comes up first.”

Yes, the situation would likely turn sour if that lady threw a nasty look and/or replied “Don’t you know that opening a conversation with strangers in front of the library is punishable by having your membership revoked?”

But the thing is when it happened, I simply didn’t care how she’d respond.

That’s why I was not surprised either when she laughed back and answered gamely along this line: “Okay, you’re going to lose.”

We continued the ritual of card flashing. As my card was proven to be the eventual winner, I just left her with a grin & let her use the machine in front of me.

And things even turned much better when…I finally found the book “Dune”.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Everything is a Test?

Well, in that case I might have failed miserably. Doesn’t make sense to some of you. This article might indeed be the most nonsensical one I posted.

This has nothing to do with The Recruit movie, although I must say I enjoy its interview part. Heh.

Anyway, if everything is a test & I purposely flunk it because I refuse to play by the rule, I’m undecided whether to give a pat on my own back or to curse my stubbornness.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine’s Day…a VD for some?

Frankly, I have got nothing against this magical day. Well, I even refrained myself not to ridicule the event yesterday. Okay, except for one harmless comment in one of the frequently visited blogs whose owner, I believe, is currently busy coaxing his dear to write in his blog. Yes? That’s the case, no?

Anyway, to repeat…I am not against Valentine’s Day. I have nothing against those who celebrate it. Hey, those who celebrate, good for you! You have helped the economy. You have helped those entrepreneurial gift sellers to reap sterling gains for the day. And the utmost importance is you have helped to ensure that your loved one feels treasured in this generally-accepted wondrous day.

How about for those who do not have someone special to celebrate it?

So what? Just treat it as like “just another day” like what Ole’Wolvie commented in one of Shakespeareheroine’s articles. Now that’s a good advice, I’d admit.

There should not be any ill-effect of Valentine’s Day.
You should not feel depressed because you’re alone.

It’s just another day. Will you let yourself to feel down just because you’re alone in that other day?! Sure, it’s your choice. No one has the right to tell you how you should or should not feel.

But again, be happy if you celebrate the Day. Yet be okay, if you don’t.
And if you choose to be depressed? Goodness, aren't you the stubborn one! Alright, just be glad too that Valentine’s Day is but one day.

I am sure by this point, some will likely point out that while it’s true that Valentine’s Day is but one day, the couple should treat every day like Valentine’s Day.

To which I shall agree and will seriously start considering a career change to be one of those entrepreneurial gift sellers. *grin*

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Didn’t they watch “Kingdom of Heaven”?

I’ve decided to put aside the state of my mind being in mess and to take a look at what I have missed for the last few days.

One that caught my attention was about the cartoon protest rage. (Latest here)

I agree that it’s been a very foolish, insensitive act--and not to mention lack of study on the subject portrayed—for having Prophet Mohammed to be drawn.

It is blasphemy. You just have to acknowledge it if you have respect for others’ religions. You have respect, you’ll try to see from their point of view.

But I strongly feel the real culprits were the newspapers that published the cartoon and those who spread it over the Net.

Thus, the outrage.

On the other hand, I admit that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had a point when he commented about the situation.

"I understand the offence the cartoons have caused, we all regret that," he told a party meeting, "but nothing, I repeat nothing, can justify the violent retribution visited on innocent people or on embassies around the world or the glorifying of acts of terrorism."

Two wrongs do not make one right. Corny as it is. True it still is.

I somewhat draw the parallel with the movie “Kingdom of Heaven”. In the ending, when Jerusalem was recaptured by the Moslems army, there was a scene when Balian, the city defender asked Saladin, the leader of the conquering army.

Balian: What is Jerusalem worth?
Saladin: Nothing.
[walks away, smiles, turns back, and points to his forehead]
Saladin: Everything!
My impression? Saladin seemed to say that Jerusalem was just a concept in one’s mind; a sacred belief that ought to be fought on.

Perhaps, that’s what happens again.
The furore that may be about nothing, yet everything.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Annotation to Previous Article.

There are 3 possibilities of how the counter is going to perform tomorrow as how it is actually with the rest of the stocks: Higher, Lower, or Flat.

Okay, that's incorrect. (Am I still in mess as I didn't realize this earlier?). There's yet another possibility: the counter being "Suspended".

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not walking the talk.

Funny, isn’t it how one may advise something that sounds very right but in reality doing completely another thing?

Even funnier, if not pathetic, if that advice comes from your own self.

Yup, critical readers might have guessed that the use of ‘that friend of her’ in the previous article refers to me. And reading an exclusive reply from one of my friends (or shall I say ‘business partners? Btw, is there any way to post a link to someone's comment--thus, the borrowed usage of 'business partners' may then be understood. Heh), I come to agree that it is indeed cumbersome to use those lengthy ‘that friend of her’.

Now in an attempt to try to be coherent with the title of this article: previously I wrote how that I would advise that friend of her to just leave her alone.

That’s not what I did.

She was sick yesterday. I’ve decided to just do what feels right for me. And what feels right for me is to give her a visit and bring her some apples.

At the very least, that’s what a friend does, isn’t it?

Unless she does have a pool of friends who can’t value her. And such a thing (a simple visit) never occurs to her.

I cycled to her place.

I was surprised when I saw her in front of her block. She was going for her dinner. I passed the apples. Mumbled something about wishing her to get well and I left her stunned.

Yeah, very much that way as the last thing I want to do was to argue with a person who was not in good health about why she should just accept the apples.

So leave them with her, I told myself. And trust her to eat them (hopefully she was not into that Snow White story) or leave it to the cruel fact, if it’s her choice to throw the apples to the rubbish bin (poor, innocent apples).

I am in mess.

Introspecting is what I need to do, but I end up doing ‘extrospecting’ (can’t even be bothered to check whether that word does exist).

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Case of Poor Vocabulary Or...?

Imagine this scenario, a girl told her friend that he was the only guy who knows how to treat her nicest beside her father.

The girl told him (the friend, not the father) that the rest of her friends do not know how to value her.

Days passed and out of the blue, the girl wrote to that friend to stop being nice to her as it makes her feel bad.

If I were to analyze this objectively, I would say that it’s no wonder that the only friends left are those who do not know how to value her. As those who are nice to her are being pissed off by her narrow-mindedness.

Being nice = being sincere.
Being sincere means not expecting something in return.
Ikhlas alias kagak pamrih. Heh. Sorry, couldn’t resist to use the Indonesian terminology.

If that’s so hard to accept, I would advise to that friend of her to just leave her alone. If the kind of friends she wants is those who do not know how to value her, just respect her decision. However ridiculous it is.

That friend of her does not have any responsibility to set her thinking right.
People have the right to commit a mistake. Let them learn from their mistake.

Note to self: I suspect that one day I’ll look back at this article (no, not to edit it) and wonder how arrogant it sounds. Or of course like the title suggested, I may just not know the right definition of 'nice' or 'sincere'.

Comment, anyone? (Other comment beside "People have the right to commit a mistake+one or two interrobangs. Let them learn from their mistake+another one or two interrobangs. Then WTH do you write comments in others' blogs for+three question marks" *grin*)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I’m back…

This title is so lame. But what the heck…anyway, experience during the last two weeks have forced me to change my perspective on certain issues.

Will continue writing once these are sorted out.
Wish me luck! :)