Tuesday 28 May 2013

Maybe there is no plan B

So I've ridden the wave of euphoria amidst the depths of depression (bipolar, anyone?) and now the question remains: yes or no?
The stressed side of me says yes. The faster, the better. (Ini kalilah?)
The other side of me says don't give up plan A.
Because there is a Plan A and somehow I have this funny feeling that this isn't even Plan B; it was merely a sidetrack. 
The results will tell. 

Lord, make it so clear that even li'l blind me can tell the difference. 

Wednesday 22 May 2013

#bookreview: The Humbling by Philip Roth

The HumblingThe Humbling by Philip Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Humbling is the story of Simon Axler, a reknown actor, who wakes up one morning having lost his ability to act. Everything comes crashing down on him - he loses his career, his wife, his self-esteem and his will to live in a short span of time.

Roth strikes at a deep fear - the fear of losing your sense of self when you grow old, when your hands and body can no longer do what you have made yourself into over the length of your years. What would you do then? Axler finds solace in the embrace of a woman, no longer young, uncertain as to her sexuality, and for a while they revel in it. He finds a new purpose - to remake this confused lesbian into a hot-blooded heterosexual woman, at her own request.

I liked the book, because it spoke strongly to me; because I understand the allure of the stage, because I act, and because I know the pain when you just fail so miserably. And it's not always under your control. I liked the simplicity of the writing and the reality (realism?) in it, the dirt under the fingernails, the crushing depression, the ignominy that we try to ignore in our lives on a daily basis. I understand its sad ending because sometimes things crush us so much that we cannot find a way to lift our heads up anymore.

But I didn't like where it went in the middle, as if everything in the world can be solved by having sex, as if all your life's problems can be somehow solved, or at least halted, once you find the right person in your life. Even though it was disproved at the end. Ha. I don't know where I'm headed with this.

I'm still a prude at heart, I suppose. There are things that need not be written and published, though I have to admit it served its point and it was not gratuitous.
So, it was a well-written story, compelling and heart-wrenching.

Just not my natural choice.

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Warning: Not for young readers. Or readers under 18.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Derailed snippet, a sort-of #fridayflash

Sometimes the choices you make in life derail you. And no matter what you do, there's no way to get back on track again. 

Tim was that choice. It wasn't that he was bad. No, he was good, too good, and I couldn't get enough of him. My dad didn't like him of course. Which father ever likes their baby girl's first boyfriend? "Get that stinkin' b- out of my house," he'd say ever so often. So we'd go to his place, you know? So maybe it was dad's fault as much as anyone's. Who knows? 

But Sean happened. He wasn't planned. We'd been talking about getting married before that but Tim never got round to proposing and when I told him, he freaked. 
"I can't do this," he said. "I'm not ready."
"And you somehow presume I'm ready?" I retorted.
"How do I know? I'm done."
And that was it. He ran. 
And I was left carrying Sean alone. It was alright the first few months until it started showing and then I never heard the end of it. I ran. 

You can't run far with a baby in your womb, but at least it gets you far enough to where no one knows your name. I told them his father had died and they were sympathetic. 
I put Tim's name on the birth certificate - I figured if anything happened, Sean would need a protector in life, no matter how reluctant that protector would be. The nurse asked if I didn't want to name the wee babe after his dead pa to remember him and I said no. Putting his name as the father was the most I would do. Sean was mine and he would bear my name.

Episode 2


I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but it's a start.
I need to write.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Replay of the day: Moving on

Can we put back all the pieces to the puzzles left behind?
We will soon be back together just before the stars align
When the curtain falls for one last time and closes out the show
Marching left, right, left, another step
Keep smiling as you go

Movin’ on
Movin’ on

I’m sick of good intentions, how they always tend to drown
But then, nothing seems to stay afloat living in the saddest town
When the curtain falls for one last time and closes out the show
Marching left, right, left, another step
Keep smiling as you go

Movin’ on
Movin’ on
Movin’ on

You’re out of room for marking days on the wall
The lines remind of just how long I’ve been gone
You’re holding on but now it’s time to let go
Just let it go
Let it go
Let it go
Let it go

Movin’ on
Movin’ on
Movin’ on
Movin’ on

We could be the story that’ll break your heart.
We could be the victim of a fall apart
Maybe we could last another week or so
Movin’ on baby means you gotta let it go

You gotta let it go
You gotta let it go

Wednesday 8 May 2013

#bookreview: Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Snuff (Discworld, #39)Snuff by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Commander Vimes, also known as Sir Samuel Vimes, His Grace the Duke of Ankh and Blackboard Monitor Vimes, is on holiday with his family out in the countryside. Young Sam is now six and is very interested in the world and science of poo. But Vimes' police sense starts to tingle not long after arriving at Ramkins Hall, and when a body turns up and he is arrested for murder, the Commander sets off on the chase.

Snuff picks up several years after Thud! and Pratchett continues on his quest to include all the different species in the Ankh-Morpork Watch. It's about goblins in this one - useless, ugly goblins who are rumoured to eat their own children, and yet make exquisitely beautiful unggue pots and can play the harp like angels. It sounds a little impossible, I know.
Pratchett also continues to explore the theme of who watches the watchman and Vimes has to fight (and sometimes cooperate now) with the Summoning Dark. There is delicate balance between how far Vimes lets himself go, and how much he curbs his natural tendencies in order to keep to and uphold the law.

I've always enjoyed the Vimes stories, especially Thud! but for some reason this one felt a little as if Pratchett was trying a bit too hard. Still, everything ties together at the end, the criminals are caught, and Vimes wiggles his way out of a difficult interview with Lord Vetinari. Willikins, Vimes' personal butler (or Gentleman's Gentleman) is being fleshed out a bit more in this one and in certain lights reminds me of Butler in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series.

My last complaint of the day - Pratchett has apparently forgotten about the use of chapters, which was really bad for me, especially since I'm the type who says "I'll read another chapter before bed".

Overall, it was a good read in Pratchett's classic witty style.

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Tuesday 7 May 2013

Me? An #atozchallenge survivor? Maybe not

I'm posting this picture with a bit of hesitance. I don't think I quite survived A to Z this year. In my first year (2011), I managed to write a serialised story, with only one or two filler posts. Last year, I managed almost all 26 posts of flash fiction. This year...

It was a bad month. That is all. Links to my A to Z flash fiction posts are here (ignoring the obviously filler ones):

Lipstick (partial, hah!)
Rumpelstiltskin's secret magic potion

That indeed is a poor showing. :(
Next year, I'll try harder to pre-write.

In terms of readership, I am awed at the blog love my readers have shown me in April. It's my highest yet and I just want to extend a big, wet, slobbery kiss to all of you (virtually, of course).

I'll be making rounds on the AtoZ list hopefully soon (I've only got a gazillion accounts to file, and you know, election fever to get over. Heh)

Monday 6 May 2013

How clean should #loveinpenang be?

So I've done a first read through for the Love in Penang submissions and generally separated the stories into three categories: yes, maybe and no. Those under "no" were fairly easy. Those under "yes" and "maybe" are in for another read, especially since the initial readings were done over the submission period of more than a month so things may have changed from the initial yesses and maybes up until the final few. To cut things down even further, even under the "yes" column I have my own category for "oh gosh super yes I love this story" and "yeah, that's nice", so I don't think I will have a problem with those. The problem that's weighing on my mind is this one story that I've put into the "maybe" category for now.

Thing is, I like the story. Okay, to be honest, it almost falls into the "oh gosh super yes I love this story" category. Except for one thing. The language. You know that age-old question about whether you should swear in your story? Or whether you should throw a few f-bombs here and there? (Okay, I don't know if it's really age-old, it's just... something I follow occasionally). Well. This story has those. And you know what, they really fit. Like, if you take them out or change the words, you mellow the story, water it down. So it's a really well-written story.

But I'm a prude. And I don't know how clean I want to go with this. Because I like books that I can recommend to people in my church. I like books that I can recommend to teens. And I can't do that with a clean conscience if there are aspects of language (or morals) that I can't justify to be there for a reason. And so this unlikely dilemma is now mine.

Yes or no? What say you?

Sunday 5 May 2013

#GE13: What's new?

I figured since I wrote a post back in 2008 when I voted for the first time, I might as well write a post for today. As I write this, there's another 50 minutes for Malaysians to vote, and looking at the rate I'm writing, by the time I'm done, we'll be waiting for the results. (Sorry, there's just too much to process).

The one thing that stands out in this election is the overwhelming emotions that are surrounding it. Sure, people are disgruntled. But this is raw anger, and anger that's not always directed at the right place. It borders on turning irrational, and I'm not sure if it isn't already irrational for some. It's as if everything must be black or white. BN is definitely black and PR is definitely white. Unless you're in BN's camp, then it's the other way around.

And what fuels this overwhelming emotion is the sheer mass of information and misinformation that is being spread across the internet, especially on facebook. It's so easy, by the click of a button to share a status - without even confirming if it is true. Someone commented on facebook (I can't recall who) that the best way to get something shared as if it is real is to just add this word in caps at the end of your status: "CONFIRMED".

(Okay it's 5.30pm and I've only reached here... wondering if I should continue the post - commercial break time.)

At the back of my mind is this thought that says regardless of who wins this time, it's already a win for Malaysia. For Malaysians. Citizens are more aware of the democratic process now and are more vocal about what they care about, which at this point of time seems to be getting rid of corruption. Citizens are realising that they do have a voice and that they can and should speak up legally, instead of always griping about the gomen (and then not doing anything constructive). Those who have never voted before are finally getting off their chairs and voting. (Proud to say my grandma has always voted.) And thanks to technology and social media, those who are playing dirty are being immortalised in digital ink (hopefully for prosecution?).

On the other hand (or in another thought) it has also exposed the immaturity of Malaysians when it comes to political discourse, as if physical might or public shaming is the right way to disseminate your views. And it shows up those who cry out for change but at the same time act exactly like those they are crying out against. (My pet peeve: if you believe in free speech, then act like you do!) There's much to be done still to educate Malaysians about politics and this is strange from someone whose most awesome encounter with politics comes from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow series (Tom Clancy puts me to sleep)

Aside: Ender's Game releases Nov 1!! Trailer to be up May 7!!

And... I have been distracted again.

The anglophile in me has just one last thing to say: No matter what happens, keep calm and carry on.

Or my favourite alternative...

Waiting... http://keputusan.spr.gov.my/#dun/7

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Thoughts from the Prayer Room (30.04.13) #GE13

That the Church will rise in the time of our nation's need
To stand firm and speak boldly for the oppressed and the poor, for the helpless and marginalised, for those who seek justice... and mercy.

That the Church will rise in the time of her own need
To right the wrongs of neglect that she has perpetuated through apathy these past 50 years.

Rise up, Church of Christ
Rise up, Roaring Lion of Judah
Rise up!

Let not fear be the defining tone of this election, but hope. Not hope in man, not hope in a party, but hope for a better future, no matter what happens. 
No matter who wins.
Because that's our what-if, isn't it?
And yet we believe (oh, how hard we believe and try to believe) that God holds this nation in the palm of His hands and HE KNOWS.

So we pray that fear will not define us - not fear of the unknown or even fear of the known, because we can stand assured in the faith that everything has been written by the Author and Finisher of our faith and no matter what happens (no matter who wins!) things have already changed

And what we hope is that this watershed election will not mark the fear-mongering, rumour-milling and name-calling as a hallmark of Malaysian politics, but it will mark the coming of age of a democratic process, of the maturing of a people united, of a nation striving for the future together.

Which is the strangest thing you can ever pray for over a country - that those in power would remember that they are a country, a nation, a people called by one name, and the other party may be a foe but never an enemy - but this is where we stand, and this is the Word we need.

I thought I liked children's books but...

Apparently not as much as I thought I did!

Fight for Freedom (Gladiator, #1)Fight for Freedom by Simon Scarrow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For a historical novel, it's ok. As a kid's book, it's ok. Nothing very spectacular or particularly intriguing.
I picked it up mainly because it was cheap and because I'd already read half of it at a bookstore previously while waiting for someone so I wanted to know how it would end. I'll probably not be picking up the sequel though. It seems rather predictable.
Also, if the teaser at the end of the book is any indication, the author decides to mangle his story by changing the name of the girl that Marcus saves and her relationship to Julius Caesar.

The Wonderful Wizard of OzThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd recently watched Oz the Great and Powerful and saw this sitting in my bookshelf so I decided to get round to reading it.

It's amazing that one simple, children's book has spawned so many movies (from different versions of the same show, to spin offs, prequels, sequels?), musicals and books. I suppose it's because whilst Frank Baum has created a wonderful land that's exciting and enticing, he hasn't included that much back story (at least in this book), which actually lends itself to other writers expanding on it as a much loved story.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a good read, really, but not quite what I was expecting it to be from all the "fanfare" around it. It's simplistic in its nature (which is what a kid's book should be), and lovely writing, but not nothing terribly exciting or wonderful about it. I suppose if I'd read it at a younger age, I would have liked it much better.

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