Personal

Games I don’t play

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!

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Food, Malaysian writing, Personal, Writing

Regency cosplayers, green tea cake with Dog, and a mustachioed King of All Cosmos

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.

Serendipity

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.

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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.

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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.

Baking triumphs

Today I applied myself to the challenge of making a green tea Swiss roll, and I am inordinately proud of the result. Behold!

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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.

Recommendations

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!)

And a final picture

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Which requires no explanation.

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Calls for submissions, Malaysia, Personal

A cornucopia of fabulousness

King of All Cosmos bolster held up by me

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.

King of All Cosmos bolster chillin' on the sofa

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.”

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Here is an Economist article about population trends in Britain:

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.)

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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).

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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!)

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