Friday, August 20, 2004

The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

So, Steve Martin is an author too, but is he any good? The Pleasure of my Company is his second fiction, the first being Shopgirl - which I have not read.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from reading this book. I'm generally a person who likes some pleasure from my reading experience, or rather, for something interesting to happen in the story or to the character. (Which is why I tend to gravitate towards fantasy, with it's high-falutin' plots and extraordinary events and characters.) Although interesting things do happen to Daniel Pecan Cambridge (the main character) it isn't something I'd call very exciting.

My review, which appeared in today's The Star (especially if you want to read the last line!).

Thursday, August 19, 2004

When you're out of money, read fanfiction

Well, that's not necessarily true, of course. I read fanfiction even if I have money to buy more books! It's free, it's there, and it's utterly fun. is a great place to start your fanfic hunt, though there are some sites out there, run by adoring fans, that can be leagues better in story selection.

If you're a wee bit clueless what fanfiction is, it is fiction based on the characters of a television (usually) show. However, fans have written fanfiction based on certain books as well, such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and even comics like X-Men.

Wanna see Aragorn ditch Arwen and hook up with Eowyn instead? Never fear! It's merely a fanfiction away!

I discovered fanfiction through my sister, who was reading Sailor Moon fanfiction. I thought the whole exercise was incredibly weird at first, but nevertheless curiosity won out and I tried my hand at reading Star Trek fanfiction, and I got hopelessly hooked from that day onwards.

The one fascinating thing about fanfiction, and the whole addictivness of it all, is that you see your favourite TV/Book characters placed in situations you would never see on television.

Like seeing Chakotay and Capt Janeway having a wild, romantic night out in the holodeck. Or Gil Grissom (of CSI) doing the liplock with Sara Sidle.

I'm not much into the whole romance thing, but am more interested in the action/adventure aspect of fanfic.

But finding good fanfiction can be a painful endevour at times. Since most fanfics are written by fans, not all of them are great writers. Some fanfics are downright painful to read. Characters are out of character, and although I'm very forgiving of spelling and grammatical errors (since I'm no Grammar Queen myself), these errors do get tiresome after a while.

I notice that certain shows attract better writers and stories for some reason. Shows like X-Files, Stargate: SG-1 and Star Trek have a wealth of good stories. Don't be surprised to find novel-length stories. But for some shows, especially those with a big teen audience like Buffy, Angel, Smallville and The O.C., finding good fanfiction can be an incredibly frustrating endevour. Maybe it is for me since it's always about who is with who, who is in love with who, and who wants to sleep with who.

Yes, there's a whole debate on whether fanfic is legal or not. However, fans are not stopping anytime soon, worshipping their favourite characters on stories they've created, placing them in weird, weird, weird situations.

And when I mean weird, it's usually in the pairing department. Fanfic writers love to pair up their favourite characters. Sometimes it something all of us want. Sometimes it's something few of us ever want (Boromir + Faramir [Lord of the Rings] love relationship anyone? Incest is not taboo in the fanfic world). Fanfic writers can sometimes speak in code, and for the first-timer, they'd probably get confused by the various terminology used. Such as:

  • slash: male and male relationships

  • UST: Unresolved Sexual Tension. Used a lot in the X-files universe!

  • Hurt/comfort: Where a character gets hurt, and another comforts the poor fella

  • Smarm: Imagine tough-looking guys talking about their feelings and dreams around a campfire and you'll get the idea.

  • sibcest: Let's not even go there.

  • fluff: A story of little substance, but read/written merely for the heck of it.

  • Smut: I don't think this needs translation

Pairings are indicated by "/". For example, if you have written a story where Scully and Mulder are lovers, you indicate: S/M.

Fans have even invented cute little names to indicate their favourite pairings. In the smallville universe, the Clark and Lana Lang pairing is "Clana". Hehe.

Well, since I've joined a gym, and my expenses will inevitably go up, one of the first things I'd have to cut from my spending bill is books. So ... looks like it's a raid at the fanfiction archives for me from now on!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Ralph Fiennes is Lord Voldemort

And I say, good choice! Fiennes is a fine actor (pun intended) and I loved his turn as the serial killer in Red Dragon. Or maybe I'm just partial to red heads.

Anyway, my judgement on how fine (again! Ha!) a fit he is for the role probably doesn't really mean anything since I've not read the book. :P So Potter readers, what do you think?

According to BBC's Fiennes named as Potter villain, filming has already begun for the fourth movie, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, but Fiennes have not shot any of his scenes yet.

Brendan Gleeson, who will appear in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village will play the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher Mad-Eye Moody.

Miranda Richardson is Rita Skeeter.

The movie will be in theatres in 2005.

Well, since The Lord of the Rings no longer has any installments (though one does hope for The Hobbit), this is something to look forward to.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Holiday reading

Reading the Guardian article If the book fits got me thinking on how I almost never pick the right book to bring on vacations. If you're a bookaholic, you're then familliar with the angst of having to pick one book out of a thousand to read while you're sipping that magarita under an umbrella in a beach.

Ah, if only we're given the choice to bring our entire libraries!

I most often than naught bring three books with me because I just can't choose. The worst book I've ever brought on vacation with me was a an Angel tie-in book. Uninteresting would be a kind word. Insipid was more like it.

On a trip to Morrib, I brought The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole which got me so hooked that I forgot that I was supposed to be playing sandcastles on the beach rather than reading in my room.

If I have a long travel by plane ahead of me, I almost never pick the right books because I often pick books where you've got to concentrate on the plot details - which would be interesting to me if I didn't have to battle air-sickness and while being frightened witless by nasty turbulence. I brought a book on Post-modernism (wuh? Huh? Sociology. Yeah, I sometimes read books like that - am I just professor-ish, or what? :) and then for the 'lighter side of things', a Terry Brooks book: Jarka Ruus. I found it difficult to appreciate the peril the characters were in when I am trying my desperate best to retain my breakfast in my stomach.

Magazines are the best bet for me during long air flights. And I spent a hefty $ on the return trip from New York on my favourite but pricy mags like Film and Empire.

I loved reading the short, punchy and often funny movie an
d DVD reviews. The wealth of cute actors between covers didn't hurt one iota, of course.

Am planning to go on a nice, beach-like holiday in Lumut soon with my pal Chris from Ipoh. What book shall I bring then? Maybe not books on sociology.

I think I'll bring comics. What can be lighter than comics, eh? Or perhaps the book I've been meaning to read by Bill Bryson, my numero uno favourite travel writer: A short history of nearly everything.

It's about science.

Hmm, maybe not such a good idea.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Kinokuniya's offer

Kinokuniya is giving away one RM10 voucher for every RM50 spent on a single receipt throughout the month of August. Each week this month will see a special promotion for certain subjects/categories:

Aug 1-7: History

Aug 8-14: Social Sciences

Aug 15-21 : Music

Aug 22-28: Literature

What, no graphic novels or science fiction books? ;)

The vouchers are valid till Aug 31 and are to be used for books from the respective sections for their respective weeks.

If I'm not mistaken, you can qualify for the vouchers only if you spend $ on the category of the week. I'm not sure about that, so head to Kino to find out for sure.

Darn, if only they had discounts for graphic novels.

Oh, wait, NO BUYING BOOKS this month. Right. Gotcha.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Brad Pitt is Mr Darcy????!

I nearly fell off the stairs when my sister told me that Brad Pitt was going to play Mr Darcy in an upcoming production of Pride and Prejudice.

"Brad Pitt as Mr Darcy? Brad Pitt is Mr Darcy?!" And I made an idiot of myself by flapping my arms in an indignant manner.

"What? What's wrong with Brad Pittlah?" my sister asked.

"He can't carry it off! Mr Darcy is aloof, aristocratic, lordly!"

"Pitt handsome what!"

"It's not about looks lah!" I stamped my feet. And continued to foam at the mouth explaining why Pitt, despite having met him in real life and knowing he is indeed a slab of grade-A American beef, can never be Darcy.

Anyway, somehow the thought of the bronzed blonde Adonis as the aloof, gentlemanly Mr Darcy was a great affront to me. And I think I'm not the only one to think so - many Austen-ites have a specific idea how Mr Darcy should look or behave (the closer they are to Colin Firth the better ;) ). Pitt just rubs us, or at least me, the wrong way.

Thank goodness then - thaaaank goodness - when I found out that no, Pitt is not going to be Darcy, someone called Matthew Macfadyen will be. According to in Spy drama star is 'new Mr Darcy', he stars in a british spy drama called Spooks.

Kiera Knightly will play Elizabeth Bennett. I think she can pull it off, but we'll just wait and see, honestly. Why do they always use the current hot, young thing for prominent roles? Oh yeah, to lure the crowds in. Duh.

All I can say about the adaptation (seventh, I think) is that more Austen is never bad.

Unless they cast Brad Pitt as Mr Darcy and have rock-themed soundtrack.