hebethen: Games — any category or intersection thereof, whether children’s or videogames or board games or the sort of game you play all by yourself when you’re alone on a very long and humdrum trip.
I don’t really like games! I lack the attention span for anything that requires me to wait to get more story/stimulation, which I blame on a childhood steeped in books and Internet. When you are reading you can gobble up the story as fast as you want, and the Internet is of course an ever-present source of instant gratification/irritation. Whereas with games you have to learn the rules, or you have to play with other people, or you have to sit through cut-scenes, or you have to play out a fight multiple times to get past it ….
(This is also the reason I don’t watch much TV.)
There are a few exceptions, of course. I like really dull games because they are a good way of zoning out and thinking about other things. I used to play Tetris a lot while planning out stories in my head. I found Harvest Moon weirdly rewarding in a very boring way. I also love the Katamari franchise, which combines soothingly dull gameplay with truckloads of whimsy, delightful graphics, and fun music. If I could, I would have the dude who designed Katamari to design my life.
I also hate board games. >:( When the Malaysian government banned fireworks and we stopped playing with sparklers at Chinese New Year, my family moved over to board games, and my main memory of childhood CNYs post-fireworks is of escaping some tedious board or card game, and going to hole up in some cousin’s bedroom with a book. Happy days!
I saw this on inkstone‘s journal and liked the look of it. Tell me what to blog about!
Rules of the meme:
Pick a date below and give me a topic — it can be anything, from fandom related to life related to art related to whatever you want.
They will probably be brief, or not, depending on the subject.
Also, I reserve the right to decline prompts that I don’t feel equipped to meet.
Topics: you can get an idea from my tags/from the stuff I usually ramble about/from things you maybe wish I talked about more but don’t.
You can request multiple topics (as long as they’re on different days — one topic per day!).
December 01 - December 02 – Geek authenticity in a world that has appropriated the symbols for commerce. (Tade) December 03 – Games: any category or intersection thereof, whether children’s or videogames or board games or the sort of game you play all by yourself when you’re alone on a very long and humdrum trip. (hebethen)
December 04 – postcolonial fluff for booknerds, and any plans for a sequel to Jade Yeo/her descendants (atropinesulfate)
December 05 -
December 06 – Are there any aspects of Malaysian, British, or Malaysian-British (?) culture you wish you saw more of in fiction? (finkelsteingirl) December 07 – A thing about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell that you wish got more attention (katenepveu)
December 08 - December 09 – how other people approach food, in terms of how they conceptualise it and how they cook and what emotions if any they have to do with it (kaberett)
December 10 – dragons and why they are awesome (troisroyaumes)
December 11 – What are the problematic and/or positive aspects of travel-writing (from any or particular perspectives)? (finkelsteingirl) December 12 – Do you have a favorite character among the ladies you’ve written? (yifu)
December 13 – Favorite places to visit (inkstone)
December 14 – your approach to editing (pendrecarc)
December 15 – Flash fiction piece using these words: ice, sunspot, roadworks, Ada Lovelace, and Oxford. (Tade)
December 16 – Foods that make you feel tremendously comfortable or at home just by tasting them (finkelsteingirl)
December 17 – ghost/spooky stories and/or urban legends (surpassingly)
December 18 – Jane Austen (nanila)
December 19 – P.G. Wodehouse (Aisha)
December 20 – weather you like, weather you hate? (shati)
December 21 – books from your childhood that made you happier when you reread them as an adult! (skygiants)
December 22 - favorite comfort reads, or favorite recipes (Anonymous)
December 23 -
December 24 – IN SPACE (tzniuswarrior)
December 25 -
December 26 -
December 27 – Malaysian English, and/or code-switching in general (Huimang)
December 28 -
December 29 – How is writing long fiction different from short fiction? (pendrecarc)
December 30 -
December 31 -
I made black sesame “brownies”! I used a recipe from Pig Pig’s Corner, Black Sesame Brownies, though mine aren’t as gloriously tar-like as hers — mine look more like ones Green Cilantro made. I don’t know if it’s cos of the lighting or what — I’d quite like my brownies to be blacker.
It’s actually really a cake, and not a brownie at all. It doesn’t have the dense fudginess of a brownie, and also it contains no chocolate. But it is GOOD. I love black sesame and am especially excited about this recipe because it’s the kind of thing you probably couldn’t buy in a shop, but it is really easy to make if you can get hold of black sesame or black sesame paste.
Cephas finds it very unusual and says his inner British person is like, “The chocolate muffin I had at tea was better “. But his outer British person is quite broad-minded and had a whole piece. Both my inner and outer Asian persons responded well: I had two pieces in quick succession, and will have many more before the week is out ….
Writer Lawrence M. Schoen does a blog series on Eating Authors, wherein he asks writers to describe their favourite and/or most memorable meal. I, er, flailed. But if you don’t mind responses that don’t properly answer the question, you can read my indecisive answer below!
I’ve been meaning to make a blog post for a while and just not had the time to get around to it, so this’ll be a fairly variegated one, drawing on the stuff of the past few weeks.
A couple of weekends ago I was finishing up my line-edit of my Regency fantasy of manners, and I walked to Hampstead Heath with Cephas. It was a really pretty day — it’s a really pretty area, and it’s nice to be close enough to escape there when you spend the bulk of your days in the centre of town.
We visited Keats House, which we’d been meaning to do for a while. (It’s basically just a house, and they’ve filled the rooms with pictures of Keats while also trying to keep it authentic to the period, which makes everything a bit weird because you can’t imagine that he had loads of pictures of himself in his house when he still lived there. Maybe if it was Byron House!
Anyway, if you want to visit a famous person’s house in North London I’d recommend Freud House instead. Once in a while they have a Kaffee und Kuchen tour where they give you Austrian coffee and cake and a tour, and it is delicious. But also Improving!)
After our tour of the interior of Keats House I went to sit on the lawn to work on my book, and while wrangling a particularly knotty sentence I looked up and realised I was surrounded by Regency cosplayers, present for the Keats Festival.
Here they are demonstrating Georgian music to an interested audience. Being a Philistine in all matters musical, I quietly beredar-ed and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sunny lawn. The house is kind of boh tat, because you have to pay £5 to enter, but the gardens appear to be free and they are very pretty.
Today I applied myself to the challenge of making a green tea Swiss roll, and I am inordinately proud of the result. Behold!
I am a great big ball of vanity. The cake itself is not too difficult — it does involve working with peaky egg whites, but I always figure with this sort of thing that either it will go well and it will rise, or it won’t go that well but the cake will still taste good. (And you can see from the pockets of air in the cake that I mixed my egg whites in with no very skilful hand.) The whipped cream is also easy to do — the recipe tells you to put but 3/4 of a tablespoon of sugar in it, so you worry that it is not sweet enough, but actually the cake is pretty sweet so together they are perfect.
What is hard, and what I worried about when contemplating doing the cake, was the purely mechanical aspect of the roll — getting the cake into that shape without breaking it or turning into a cream monster. But Cooking With Dog helped me!
I don’t know if you know Cooking With Dog? I introduced Cephas to it today and he started LOLing, to my sister’s puzzlement.
“It’s just a normal cooking show,” she said. “I watch it to see the cooking. I wouldn’t link it to my friends, it’s not funny. The dog isn’t even doing anything.”
“How can you say he’s not doing anything?” I said severely. “The dog is hosting.”
Dog was very helpful with my Swiss roll mechanics today! Thank you, Francis.
I started following Singaporean writer Alfian Sa’at’s Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and feel pretty good about that as a life decision. You can follow his updates even if you’re not friended (it does, alas, require you to have a Facebook account), and it is worth the price of entry if you are at all interested in local literature. His most recent status on pantun and peribahasa (Malay poetry and sayings) referencing apes, monkeys and slow lorises is a good example — my favourite of the ones he lists is:
Seutas rotan ditarik, bergegar hutan belukar, riuh bunyi kera dan lotong
‘A rattan stem is pulled, the forest underbrush shakes, the outburst from the macaques and langurs is deafening’. If someone is guilty of wrongdoing, he or she will receive an earful from friends and relatives.
If they taught Malay literature like this at school I think people would be a lot more interested lor. (Not that I didn’t enjoy Konserto Terakhir, mind you. Surprise almost-incest always jazzes up one’s school reading!)
Things I did instead of writing or reading or replying to an email I should really reply to:
Read Tumblr. Made breakfast galettes on a whim after seeing them on my dashboard. (I ate them with melted cheese and the egg yolk you don’t use for the batter, plus a mug of milky coffee.)
Meandered down to library, stopping by the small market on the way to goggle at semi-precious jewellery. Mystic topazes are very pretty! They are like the fangirl red hair of gemstones.
Took five books out of library: London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City by Sukhdev Sandhu, Ghosts of Empire by Kwasi Kwarteng, Captain Gronow’s Regency Recollections, Out in the Midday Sun: The British in Malaya 1880-1960 by Margaret Shennan, and Divine Endurance by Gwyneth Jones.
Went into local grocery to stare wistfully at blackberries and raspberries. I have, relatively late in life, reconciled with blackberries and raspberries. Berries are now my favourite non-tropical fruit, but unfortunately they are more expensive than other fruit … I thought of buying some, but refrained out of a sense that it would be needlessly extravagant. We have some perfectly good oranges and apples here at home.
Stopped by charity shop on the way home to try on a mustard dress and mint green lace cardigan. They would have made an attractive outfit together, but unfortunately neither was particularly flattering on me.
Wrote this blog post!
What does a typical Saturday look like for you? You should tell me so I don’t have to write!
It was my birthday yesterday! Some people wished me many cakey returns. It is for these people that I post the following pictures.
Cake #1: a Japanese strawberry green tea shortcake, made using this recipe + a healthy heaping of matcha. I made it myself! The advantages of this are a) you can make precisely the sort of cake you would want as a birthday cake and b) when Skyping with your parents you can lament that you are so badly off, so neglected by your spouse and all your loved ones, that it is necessary for you to make your OWN birthday cake. Alas! Alack!
I used my Aladdin bento box for the first time today! I’ve got the two-storey version, which comes with a top compartment for soups and a larger bottom compartment, into which you can slot a half moon-shaped container so you can keep your rice and cai separate. It claims to be able to keep your food warm for up to five hours (or cool if that is how you prefer it), which is convenient as we don’t have that many microwaves at work.
I put some edamame in the top compartment, along with a hardboiled egg, and filled up the bottom with kimchi fried rice, giving the rice a blitz in the microwave before I set off. It worked pretty well! The rice wasn’t quite hot, but it was warm, and edible enough. The things I will do differently tomorrow are:
cook the edamame in advance and chill them, because when you put them into the lunchbox immediately after cooking they get a bit soggy
put the spring onion for garnishing the rice in the edamame compartment and only add it to the rice just before eating, so it doesn’t get wilted by the heat
heat up the rice until it is EVEN HOTTER before packing it
put in less rice. Wah, very full after lunch today.
(perhaps include a piece of delicious banana bread Cephas has just made, by way of dessert)
I am going to buy myself a bento cookbook. Perhaps the Just Bento one? Do let me know if you’ve got any recommendations.
You may enjoy these Notes on K. S. Maniam’s The New Diaspora in the New Village zine, discovered via hipsterbabas. (The original essay is here — I haven’t read it yet.) K. S. Maniam is a Malaysian Indian novelist and playwright, and the essay “explores the problems of internationalising community literatures, using the multicultural situation in Malaysia as a sort of model”.
I do not understand all of what Maniam is saying, and the notes seem scarcely shorter than the original essay itself lor. But what I have managed to grasp is interesting. I am doubtful about this idea of a new diaspora, an elite minority whose task is to make sense of the problems of multiculturalism and globalisation by somehow rising above its ethnic and cultural origins — but perhaps I misunderstand the argument. Anyway, it is comforting to see discussion of these issues one has been grappling with personally, feeling quite at sea.
Today I hit 50,000 words on the novel! My aim was to hit that word count by the end of 2012, so I am a couple of days late, but eh. \o/! I really made this post just to say this, but got distracted by lunchboxes and literature.
The first draft is growing alarmingly fragmented; I am run away with some subplots and don’t know what to do with others — and I think I have written one scene at least twice. But these are things that can be fixed on the next go-round, right? We soldier on.
We have a new roomie here in the House of Cho & Co! He is a gift from my spouse, who is a gentil parfait knight if there ever was one (mmm, parfait). He would be good for cosplaying with, only there are no eye holes. ONLY DREADFUL LASER EYES OF DOOM.
This picture gives you a better idea of His Majesty’s vivid manly colouring. He talks when you hit his nose! Also when you hug him (he is very huggable), or accidentally sit on him. He doesn’t currently show up on Penguinotic Designs, but that is where we got him from, and I agree with that one reviewer who said: “They said money doesn’t buy you happiness. They were wrong.”
Those who define themselves as “white British” now make up just 81% of the population, down from 88% in 2001, when the last census was conducted. … In 2001 fully 45% of the minority population of England and Wales lived in London. Now, they are more spread out.
(Admittedly that is not the sexiest quote I could have chosen, but I found it interesting.)
Stupefying Stories is seeking material by 2013 Campbell-qualifying authors for inclusion in an awards pre-reading anthology. Check out the call for submissions for details. They’re only seeking reprints, and are not paying. The anthology will be available as a free download from 1 February through the end of April 2013.
Even if you don’t want to supply fiction for inclusion in the anthology, it’s probably worth getting in touch if you qualify, as they plan to include a full list of known, eligible candidates and details of their eligibility in the finished volume. If you think you might be eligible but aren’t sure, check out the Writertopia Campbell Award page and the Eligibility FAQ in particular (it’s slightly out of date but I assume is accurate if you move all the dates one year up).
Amir Muhammad’s pulp press Fixi is launching an English-language line, Fixi Novo: see manifesto and call for submissions. They’re seeking pulp novels (“crime, horror, sci-fi and so on”) and are interested in the “urban reality of Malaysia”. (Not as serious as it sounds — well, you can tell from their manifesto, but also Fixi’s Malay-language catalogue includes the novel Zombijaya. Rough translation of the back cover blurb: “Welcome to Malaysia. A country rich with Eastern tradition. But what happens when its people are suddenly surrounded by zombies?“)
Fixi Novo is also seeking short stories between 2,000 and 5,000 words on the theme “KL Noir” for an anthology. Details on their Facebook page. (All Malaysian presses seem to operate primarily out of Facebook — don’t ask me why!)
I’ve just moved in with a (mostly) vegetarian who has lower standards for food than I do, which means a) I will be doing most of the cooking and b) I guess some of the cooking will have to be vegetarian???
So to explain where I’m coming from on this — you know how families have nicknames or roles for each of the members, like one kid is the baby and one kid is the responsible one, or maybe one kid is sporty and the other is academic, or one kid is the pretty one and one is the plain one? In my family, I am the meat eater. (We all eat meat. But I’m the meat eater.)
Still, as with the other familial roles I listed, it’s something you can outgrow, and I’d say I’m probably one of the most open-minded eaters in the family now — I profoundly enjoy meat when I do have it (which is … most of the time …). But I don’t insist on having it with every meal or anything like that, or feel like I haven’t had a real meal if there wasn’t any meat in it. (Note that I am subject to the influence of, respectively, a) a food culture that finds the concept of vegetarianism so challenging that it has produced restaurants whose metier is serving tofu made to look like fish and b) a food culture that puts tiny prawns in everything. EVERYTHING. See: colorblue‘s sad experience eating instant noodles at a medan selera where nothing didn’t have udang.)
I’m unlikely to become a vegetarian, since my partner is only mostly a vegetarian and doesn’t care if I make stuff for both of us and then add steak to my plate. But I am going to try and report back on my efforts! I foresee my initial forays will be heavy on mushrooms.
You can buy my historical romance novella THE PERILOUS LIFE OF JADE YEO as an ebook from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, and all the other geographical flavours of Amazon that sell ebooks. Or you can read it online for free here on my website. That works too!