Friday, 22 June 2012

Indicinelive IV - is nothing sacred?

Step aside SNL, Little Britain and MADtv: The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre’s sought-after sketch-comedy revue returns this year with its biggest and boldest installment to date! Premiering in 2010, INDICINELIVE! (in-dee-SEE-nee-live-!) satirizes the insane society we live in through a high-octane line-up of every-day characters, familiar situations, and parodies of songs we’ve heard and are all too familiar with. INDICINELIVE! is, essentially, a generous serving of how we see the world in fun-sized pieces – nothing quite like laughing at ourselves at the end of the day.

I didn't really intend to see this but went along when a friend of mine asked. I'm sorry if I'm a boring, prudish little bookworm, but I'm not really into comedy, especially crude comedy.
With the "mature audiences" warning, (emphasised over twitter a few times by Alvin) I kind of suspected what type of sketches would be staged but I guess I didn't expect some to be, well, simply put, that crude. Or maybe with my writer's mind I needed some point to be behind the crudity. Well, some did. But it was a little too much over the top.

That aside, the pieces I enjoyed were brilliant pieces of satire, touching on subjects like the NFC scandal, our First Lady, that girl - whats-her-name - about the towing of the cars in Penang, that wives club thing, the ballet ban fiasco - you get the drift. They weave seamlessly from scene to scene, as well as from language to language. Really, talking about that, the staging is brilliant. Props are minimal, mostly making use of wooden blocks, chairs and video/media. The cast are in and out of the stage within seconds, with restaging done in those short moments just by rearranging the blocks. The cast themselves are solid, give and take a few flat notes in some of the songs.

This is definitely NOT the show to watch if you still have sensitivities intact.

Details on the remaining shows at PenangPAC (until Sunday) on facebook here.
Extremely detailed review online here, in case you really need to know what you're getting into. 

Oh yes, no mikes were used in Stage 2 of PenangPAC, so you might want to get there early and grab a front seat (it's free seating) because whilst they're pretty clear when they speak/act, not all of them have strong singing voices.

Dancing through it | #fridayflash

Smile. First position.
Fae deepened her smile, showing her teeth. Funny how people said that. Smile, show your teeth. A threatened dog showed its teeth too. She inhaled sharply and adjusted her smile. It felt fake, plasticky. She wavered between the word smile and grin, then decided it didn’t matter. Poise was all that mattered. She pulled her back straight, lifted her chin, released her stiff hands gracefully, ever so gracefully to hover at her side and smiled.

Third position. Plie. Smile.

“You don’t dance around the pain, darling. That never helps. You acknowledge it, then you laugh at it, and then you dance through it,” Brad gripped her upper arm so tightly that she cried out in pain.
“Why are you doing this to me?” she cried.
He shrugged. “Do you want this job or not?”
“Of course I want it.”
“Then do as I say.”
“But it hurts so much.”
“If you can’t handle it, go home. Go home, Fae. Give it up.”
“I’m not giving up, Brad.”
Brad watched as she pulled herself up again, wincing at the pain in her muscles, the sting of torn skin. He nodded his grim approval as she stood ready and poised again, her wide smile drenched in salty tears.

Pirouette sur les pointes. Spot. Smile.

She massaged her aching legs surreptitiously, her eyes scanning the studio. The muscle spray was on the highest shelf, way out of reach. There were days she wished she were taller, that she didn’t still look like a child. Brad walked in and frowned at her.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, scrambling to her feet.
To her surprise, he walked over to the shelf, picking up the spray she had been eyeing. He gestured for her to sit, kneeling beside her. She wanted to cry with the relief his gentle kneading brought her.
“You don’t have to be strong alone.”
“But you said -”
“Not all dances are solos.”

Volte. Corrida apart.

“You don’t understand.”
“What is there to understand?”
“I don’t love you.”
“Give me a chance. Please.”
“It has nothing to do with that. I just… I just can’t.”
“Tell me why. Please, Fae.” He knelt before her, grasping her hands. She pulled away.
“I still love him, Brad. I’ve never stopped loving him. I can’t. I don’t know why.”
“But he’s gone.”
“And you killed him. It was your fault. Don’t bother telling me otherwise. I know.”
“It was an accident.”
“You were drunk!”
“He was worse!”
“Oh, so that’s justification for driving drunk? The least drunk person needs to drive?”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“I don’t care. He’s gone because of you. That’s all I know. I’m sorry.”

Allonge, facing him.

She drew herself up straight again, feeling for all the world like a puppet on a string. She thrust her chin out, roughly at first, then gently settling into a familiar pose. Her hands clenched compulsively, but she forced them open, tautly at rest. Body poised, she set her face.

Smile.

---

So I had this dance theme in my head since last week's Broadway show. I don't really know much about dance terms, so I googled, with most of the stuff coming from this site
To all real dancers out there, sorry if it doesn't make sense. Also, pointers would help. 

Also, this piece is exactly 500 words because I said I would write 500 words before bed. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Doll by JC Martin


I found this gem when I was scrolling through the books in my iBooks the other day. I had totally forgotten about it as I hadn’t had the time to read it when I first got a copy from JC Martin.

On The Island of the Dolls, hundreds of dolls have been strung up all around the island to appease the spirit of Salvadora, a young girl who had drowned in the canal many years ago. Now a tourist attraction, Joyce Parker can’t help but feel uneasy as she sets foot on the tiny islet. Trying to push aside silly superstition when one of their tour group drowns in his own swimming pool, Joyce’s worries are compounded when her own daughter Taylor, who was on the tour with her, starts developing strange mannerisms and talking to imaginary friends.

The Doll is a very frightening story, mainly because everything seems so ordinary. There are hints of dark spirits right from the beginning, but not anything that can’t be explained away - until you reach the ending. JC is a brilliant story-teller, weaving fact and fiction together seamlessly in this short story.

I can’t wait for Oracle to be out (really really soon!)

p/s The Doll is available free on Amazon (click the widgety thing below), or Smashwords.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Two more days, feet, and you can rest

It's two days to show day.

TWO DAYS.

I have Sweeney Todd and Lion King stuck in my head. Right now, Green Finch and Linnet Bird is doing a major loop loop loop in my head and it's not even like MY song. Yeesh.



And I also have a new onset of profound respect for dancers. Like really. Respect.

I don't know. Singing is easy. But singing and dancing at the same time... is a REAL stretch. For me, anyway. I can't compartmentalise my brain enough to make either really good. So, it's either slightly crappy dance steps and good singing, or pretty okay dance steps and slightly breathless singing.

MEH.

It's time for classes, this being the gazillionth time I have said this since... um... three or four years ago. Or more. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Zombie Candy - the craziest revenge ever #bookreview

Any one fancy some zombie candy?
Source:  http://www.niftycandy.com/weirdcandy.html

With a title like Zombie Candy (Annie Ogden Mystery 2) , what can you expect?

I picked up Zombie Candy mainly because Frederick Lee Brooke is a twitter and triberr friend. I’ve read some of his shorts/flash fiction on his blog before and thought they were brilliant. So whilst Zombie Candy, with its heavy references to the zombie craze, wasn’t exactly my standard reading fare, I figured why not give it a go?

This totally zany story starts with Candace Roach, Annie Ogden’s best friend, finding an unknown woman’s bra in her husband’s luggage. Candace hires Annie, freshly armed with a Private Investigator’s licence, to find out exactly what her husband is up to. But the truth is hard to swallow, and when Candace finally realises the true extent of Larry Roach’s infidelity, she devices a way to send him a message in the only way he can understand - through his obsession with zombies.

Zombie Candy is funny and light reading. I could have possibly missed out on some of its nuances, since I didn’t get some of the zombie movie references, but it wasn’t a big deal. I may even have to watch some of these movies myself, since he made it sound so interesting. Unless I discover I’m like Candace (who hates zombies with a vengeance). 

Now maybe I should pick up Doing Max Vinyl (Annie Ogden Mystery) too…

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Zombie Candy for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About the book: Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee-slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon. About the author: Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Interview with Frederick Lee Brooke, author of Zombie Candy

Please enjoy this interview with Frederick Lee Brooke, author of the genre-bending mystery Zombie Candy. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

1. What was the inspiration behind your novel, Zombie Candy?
There was a famous golfer whose wife chased him out of the house with a golf club in the middle of the night a couple of years ago. It was funny that she attacked her husband with his own weapon of choice. I got to thinking what must be going through a woman's mind in that situation? I thought it would be interesting to explore the thought processes of a woman who discovers that her husband is a serial cheater. After the denial comes anger, but there is also a phase of grief. There's guilt. Maybe she blames herself, rightly or wrongly. Candace oscillates between wanting revenge and wanting her husband back, and as the novel winds up she makes discoveries about herself that I thought a woman in her situation would be likely to make.

2. Do you think Zombie Candy will appeal to true zombie fans?
What's a true zombie fan? I don't want to give anything away, but any active zombie fan who participates in zombie walks, goes to festivals, etc. will love Zombie Candy. That being said, this is a book that has elements of mystery, horror and romance all in one. It had quite a few early readers, fans of all different genres, and the consensus is that it really works.

3. The book contains some of Candace's favorite recipes. Why?
I confess, I love to cook, and it's such an important part of my life, it just felt natural to have Candace want to share her recipes. We are all vulnerable to being attacked through our taste buds. I like reading about cooking, and I love watching cooking shows on TV. I feel like I'm learning something and tasting it at the same time. It felt right for this to be really important for Candace. At the same time, her husband Larry is so incredibly lacking in appreciation of her talents, not just the cooking itself, but organizing complex meals and directing the preparation of them by her class of twelve people. These are amazing skills, and Larry is blind to them. I thought marriages are sometimes like that, where people get to a point where they are totally ignorant of what their partner is great at.

4. There is a no-cilantro label on the back cover of the book. What is the significance of it? Candace is a gourmet cook, and her cheating husband Larry insists on covering all his food with cilantro. This is one of those minor points of contention in a marriage that flares up and becomes important, like a trigger. I thought it was funny. And it seems a lot of people really do have strong feelings about cilantro, either for or against. When I was searching for a good graphic I came across pages on the internet like ihatecilantro.com and facebook.com/i-hate-cilantro.

  5. After starting out in Chicago, why did you decide to set the story in Tuscany?
 I've been fortunate enough to travel to Italy forty or fifty times in my life, sometimes for a two-week vacation, sometimes just for a very short trip. I absolutely love it there, from the food to the language to the beauty of the countryside and the architecture. In Zombie Candy, Candace realizes at a certain point that she has to get Larry out of his comfort zone. This is a guy who travelled all over the country every week for his work, and cheated on Candace with waitresses, flight attendants, whoever. He can adapt just about anywhere. But in Tuscany Larry discovers two things: 1) it's not so easy to find a willing waitress or flight attendant to spend the night with him; and 2) there are zombies here.

6. How would you describe the way you work as a writer?
I guess I'm a bit of a chameleon, able to adapt pretty well to circumstances around me. My wife and I have three boys and they are not quiet. I can do most revision with significant background noise and interruptions. Only when I'm writing a first draft or doing some serious planning work do I need peace and quiet. Then I'll often take a walk in the forest anyway. It helps a lot to be adaptable. If I had to put off writing every time someone asked me to cook dinner or help them with their homework, my book would never have been finished. For me, being able to jump right back in has been the key to being able to finish big projects.

7. Did you always want to be a writer?
I was an early reader and this led to curiosity about writing stories. My sister and I wrote stories during long car trips. In high school and then in college I dreamed of writing novels, but I only started writing short stories after graduating from college. That writing phase lasted about five years, and I learned a lot about writing, but life got in the way, with marriage and job and career and kids. Only when my kids were halfway grown and my career reached a certain level of success did I find a way to return to writing. Now I'm fulfilling a lifelong dream.

8. What process do you go through to define your characters?
I start with an image of them as basically good or basically evil, and put them into a context or a situation, and then just basically make sure there is plenty of conflict. My characters are never perfectly white or black. I think we're drawn to weaknesses. We want to watch them mess up, and see how they'll extricate themselves. Of course, sometimes all my planning goes out the window. It's a cliche to say that characters surprise you with their actions, but they do. They're defined by what they do and what they say. I did some acting in high school and have always loved the theater, and knowing what it means to be in character helps me be in character when I'm writing dialogue. My books are fairly dialogue-driven. What the characters say reveals what they are thinking and feeling.

9. What writing advice did you receive that was most beneficial to you?
I had to learn to love conflict. The conflict is the story. The conflict shows the true colors of your characters. I grew up in the suburbs in a family where we avoided conflict at all costs. We talked like diplomats. So embracing conflict has been something I had to learn.


10. You're an indie author. Any thoughts on the divide between independent publishing and traditional publishing?
I think the market will sort itself out, but it's going to take time. Good books will find their way into readers' hands somehow, whether in printed or electronic form. We need our stories every day. We can't live without stories. For me personally, independent publishing has been the perfect solution. I found an excellent editor who professionally edited my manuscript. I like the idea that I can control the timing of the publication of my books. If my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, had been traditionally published in April 2011 instead of the way I did it, it probably would have hit the remainder tables by Thanksgiving, and it would be out of print now. I think Zombie Candy might spark some interest in Doing Max Vinyl, so it's a benefit to readers as well as to me that it continues to be available, rather than going out of print and being forgotten. E-books are clearly here to stay, because the consumers (readers) and providers (authors) are the big winners. The only losers are the bookstores, publishing companies, agents and others who refuse to adapt.   As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Zombie Candy for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About the book: Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee-slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon. About the author: Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Days two and three: YES Broadway Penang

Okay, so I've been a little lazy, and tired. :)
Friday morning I re-twisted my ankle a little during dance, which was meh, so I sat out the morning dance. Went home at lunch to dig out my ankle guard, and was okay enough to do bits of the dance in the afternoon but skipped all the jumping bits.
Saturday was mostly music, yay, and we've practically done all the Lion King songs except chow down and most of the Sweeney Todd ensemble songs.
We're starting at two today so I'm lazing around for a bit... :)

Friday, 8 June 2012

#fridayflash - Surrender

It was not going well.

Leah squinted at the two figures on the horizon. The shadows were coming quickly - Prince had told her earlier that if the light failed, they were lost. Still, the two men stood, locked in a mysterious battle she couldn’t understand. Prince’s eyes stared unseeing at his opponent, his face a stony mask. The other man, known to Leah only as the Enemy, stared back, his sinister smile sending shivers down her spine. Or had, two hours ago when she had gathered the courage to creep up near them to watch.

But there had been nothing to watch then, and nothing to watch now, except the deepening dusk. She wondered where they really were - were they fighting a physical battle on some unknown planet? Or were they somehow battling wills here in the invisible realm? Leah pulled her coat tighter around her. Was it time? They looked like statues from where she was and she was reluctant to get any closer.


“When the shadows touch this rock, you have to wake me, Leah,” Prince had told her early that morning. “Promise me this.”
“Why?”
“Promise me first.”
“Okay. I promise.”
“If the Enemy holds me until night, I will never live again.”
“But if you lose -”
“If I lose because you wake me, so be it. We live to fight another day. If I lose because of night fall, all is lost.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You don’t need to.”
“But -”
“You promised, Leah. Wake me when the shadows come.”
“How?”
“You’ll know how.”


The shadows had come and Leah didn’t have a clue. She forced herself up the hill again, picking up the pace when she realised that the shadows had completely engulfed the stone. Had she waited too long? She hoped not.
“Prince?” she called softly as she approached.
Nothing happened.
“Prince!” she tried louder.
Desperately, she tugged at his hand as the sun slipped lower and lower, calling his name over and over again.
“You lied to me, Prince! I don’t know how!” she finally yowled in desperation, tears streaming down her cheeks.

A sliver of pink remained in the sky as she surrendered to her final impulse. If this was their last night alive, let her do what she had always wanted to do from the first moment she laid eyes on his roguish face framed by little brown curls. She kissed him. And then he kissed her back.

---

Prompt "surrender" from Christine

--- 

Also, argh, that doesn't really fit as surrender but... oh well. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

YES Broadway Penang - the first day of workshops!



Because I am still primarily a writer/blogger, a quick update on today's Yes Broadway Academy workshops:

A number of the people from Short + Sweet Workshops were also in the programme, so I wasn't completely lost and clueless when I arrived. (Yay!) Surprise, surprise, Michelle Tan, my ex-school mate is also in the programme, along with a bunch of her friends from KL.

S/N: being in with a bunch of intensely focused, creative, dancerly people (as in actually in the industry), makes me feel... well, a little out of place. Haha.

Anyways, we started off with dance, which is a bit of a boo :( because I am not really a dancer. I mean, I try. But it's not quite there. And being surrounded by these really intense dance people (see above) makes me feel nervous.

After lunch, we got round to singing, which is a YAY! because I got a solo part, doing The Worst Pies in London.

Yeah, we're doing a Sweeney Todd medley. =D

We've also covered most of The Lion King medley, song-wise, with choreography to come (God, help me survive!)

AND we've done most of the dance for The Nicest Kids in Town (which was uber tiring, BUT I CAN DO IT!, uh, with a bit of fudging still, heh) and a little bit of Dancing Queen.

That actually sounds a lot for one day. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Book review: How Like a God by Brenda Clough

I picked up this book only because I needed an extra book to get the 3 for RM10 deal at a warehouse sale. Needless to say, expectations weren't that high, mainly because of the extremely lame cover, though the blurb sounded rather interesting.
How Like GodHow Like God by Brenda W. Clough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In How Like a God, computer programmer Rob Lewis is happily married and loves his crazy and hectic life with his twins - until he suddenly gains the power to read and change minds. At first, he is filled with moral impulses to help fix everything that's wrong with the country. But his power soon gets out of control and when he finds himself inadvertantly influencing his eighteen-month-old toddlers to act like adults, he takes the only solution that seems open to him: he runs away.

I found myself enjoying the story despite my earlier misgivings. Rob, in the vein of all super hero journeys, has to find himself and what really defines him before he can set out to defeat his nemesis; in this case he has to discover the perpetrator behind the strange messages being dumped in his psyche, and hopefully, the source of this mysterious power that plagues him.

Overall, it was an interesting read and and interesting concept to explore.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 3 June 2012

How do you carry on carrying on?

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Colossians 3:23

I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like that I know I’m not giving my 100% but on the other hand, I find that I can’t care anymore. Maybe I’ve been here just a little too long, or maybe it’s the fact that the longer you stay, the more you understand the idea that anything you hoped would change isn’t going to change. Maybe the real world is just getting a little too much for me. (Hah, what say you, O GCF leader, konon?)

I've hit the level of my mediocrity. Gone long past it, really. And the problem is that my heart isn’t in it. If my heart were still there, I’d still be pushing on, trying harder. But I’d rather be doing something else. This shouldn't be so, but it is. Or maybe it should be so because it is. Maybe all this has only been my holding pattern because I have been too afraid to move. Too afraid to decide. Too afraid of what people would say.

The fact remains that I was afraid of this. I was afraid of being sucked into a hole of waiting, and biding my time. I was afraid of becoming complacent. Because as much as I hate change, I have come to realise that I fear complacency more - no, it’s not complacency, it’s that sense of being here but not being here. It’s that sense of waiting for something else, but not knowing what it is, and not being able to know because you haven’t moved towards it yet, because you haven’t had the time to really think about it, because you are too busy here even if you don’t want to be. It’s that inability to be in the moment because your mind has gone somewhere else, like an absent-minded professor.

And it’s not good for the things I am doing now, and the things I should be doing now, because I cannot concentrate fully on one or the other and I find myself merely counting down the months. I should not stay, and yet I must, because it is not yet the set time. And yet, who set the time?

How do you work around that? How do you live as you meant to do, when it has all become a lie? How do you set that standard and say I am working for the Lord now, even though you feel that you were meant to be somewhere else?

How do you carry on carrying on when you know that all you are doing is biding your time?