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Neil Gaiman's Personal Library.

Neil Gaiman's personal library is like... well... it's like a library. A really nice and cosy library.

REVIEW: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

A review I wrote ages ago finally got published in The Star. Well, that review had a crazy journey from my keyboard to print, but I shall not dwell on the matter.

This review was published in The Star on 28 August 2009.

Marathon chronicles
Review by TED MAHSUN

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Harvill Secker, 180 pages

PEOPLE don’t usually associate running marathons with writing novels. Not Haruki Murakami. For this award-winning Japanese author, the act of training and eventually taking part in a marathon is no different from the arduous task of writing a novel.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is Murakami’s attempt to coagulate and combine his thoughts on these two seemingly unrelated activities into one book. As a result, this book ends up being a memoir as much as it is about running and writing.

The book is divided into chapters that are essentially journal entries, chronicling Murakami’s progress as he prepares himself for the N…

What's Up Ted.

Just a small update for you. I've just had the craziest week... and signs are pointing that the weeks to come are just going to get crazier.

Probably not as crazy as winning RM50,000 though, which I (along with my fellow team members, Ash and Lina) did.

A couple of months ago, me, Ash and Lina decided to take part in a little competition. All we had to do was send in a proposal to design a computer game.

No problem. Except that I was doing (and am still doing) the CELTA course, an intensive English teacher training course. I ended up having to accomodate sleepless nights just to get the presentation for the game proposal, my lesson plan for a class the day before the game presentation AND an assignment done in time.

So! The lesson here: burn the midnight oil if you want to end up holding a mock cheque like this:


Hurray!

3 Language-related Things Which Really Annoy Me.

1. Excuse, please.
Guys, it's "excuse me, please." Every time I hear this on the train I have to fight the urge to reply, "excuse who?" and not move aside.

2. Pronouncing the word "liaise" as "lie-us".
It's pronounced "lee-eh-zz", not "liars". I swear if I hear someone call me a liar(s) again I'm gonna punch him/her in the ear.

3. Could of, should of, would of, must of
It's could've, should've, would've, must've. Why the hell is that so hard to get???

Signed,
Ted
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Grammar Nazi

Lesson: Commemorative Covers are Lame.

Well, I got the first day cover that commemorates the 35th anniversary of the establishment diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia that I mentioned a couple of posts ago.



Except that it's not a first day cover, it's a commemorative cover, which is a slightly different beast. I guess I should read the news article properly next time!

The difference between the two is that first day covers are specially-designed envelopes stuck on with specially-designed stamps, and marked with a specially-designed postmark. A commemorative cover is a specially-designed envelope... and that's it.

All in all, it's an unremarkable affair, especially if you're used to well-designed first day covers (not that Malaysian first day covers are well-designed... but I digress). Oh sure, a commemorative cover has a stamp printed right on to it but that's just like an overglorified aerogramme. Lame.

On the whole, what a disappointment. I haven't been collecting first day covers for …

My Resolution for July.

Waking up before 11am would be nice. Also might get me in less trouble at work.

UPDATE:
Epic fail. Woke up at 10 minutes to noon.

UPDATEUPDATE:
I can no longer tell the difference between June and July. DOUBLE EPIC FAIL

Commies in our Midst.

I have a little time on my hands again! Time to blog! Can't be bothered to continue where I left off the previous time because I don't remember I wanted to talk about now so I'll just mention something strange I saw in the online edition of a widely read national newspaper.

The recent issue our esteemed politicians have gotten themselves in a fit concerns The Red Menace, more specifically, Chin Peng, leader of the ageing and no longer scary Communist Party of Malaya, and whether he can be forgiven and allowed to return home to our country to die.

With that in mind, here's a screenshot of today's local news page of said national newspaper:


Take note of the news items in the red boxes. While our benevolent leaders don't seem to want to forgive the communists closer to home, they seem to have no qualms with getting in bed with Chin Peng's sponsors.

It all becomes even more weird when you take into account that the newspaper in question here is called "The Sta…

I didn't bother thinking of a title.

Well, I'm back.

I thought I'd better start blogging again before some part of my brain starts sprouting cobwebs or something. The reason I stopped blogging was things were starting to become a little out of control in my life and so I had to put blogging on the back burner while I...

...goddammit. I was just called into a meeting. I'll finish this rant whenever.

RIP, JG Ballard.

I didn't intend to blog again so soon, but news of JG Ballard's death kind of shocked me. I know I should've expected it, since he's been ill for some time now, but I guess I was hoping he would make it.

Haven't read Crash, but I watched the Cronenberg movie and thought it was really bizarre. Loved his more conventional––if one can truly say that about him––science fiction novels though.

Okay, back to being on hiatus.

Celebrating World Book Day with BookXcess.

Received an email from BookXcess:
Hi Ted!

We're having a super promotion in conjunction with the World Book Day celebrations. Even our latest shipment arrived in time for our latest sale! :-D Award-winning books with 20% discount, free books for nett purchases above RM20, RM20 vouchers for nett purchases above RM200... there's just so much going on at BookXcess! We would truly appreciate it if you can help spread the word in your blog to your esteemed readers and share the joy of reading more for less at BookXcess! Attached is the e-poster we have created for the occasion.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! Hope to see you soon at BookXcess!

Warmest regards,
Andrew & Jacqueline Yap

Click on the poster to enlarge.
Sorry this isn't a proper post or anything. Just don't have the time to concentrate on blogging at the moment.

Still Alive.

I'm still breathing! But this blog seems to be on life support. Well, you know the story ... busy and all that.


Hopefully I'll be back in full force around March or April.

HOWTO: Write in a World Full of Distractions.

Cory Doctorow, of Boing Boing fame and author of quite a number of SF novels (look 'em up 'cos I'm too lazy to google them for you), has an article up on Locus Online on how to deal with the distractions of the Internet while writing.

He doesn't believe in switching it off--the most obvious route--but has a number of useful tips to keep those distractions at bay. Some of them are obvious, like switching off your IM and carving out a regular writing routine, but the one I find most useful is his cautioning not to research:
Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type "TK" …

It is the New Year! Time to write about porn.

Yes! What an excellent idea!

Unfortunately, though excellent it may be, it is only impossible for me to do so. Therefore, permit me to pass you an equally excellent link: Soiled Doves of the Old West.

And if you're wondering what prompted this non sequitur of a post, I will have to say I've changed genres in my reading. For the past year or so, I've been telling everyone who's bothered to listen to me that I was in my Science Fiction phase and most of my reading has been SF-related. I guess it's safe to say I've since switched to reading Westerns...

...yeah, I know. Not an improvement on my literary tastes, but I rewatched Sergio Leone's masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West recently and it dredged up a longing inside me for the Wild West.

Am currently reading Louis L'amour's Flint, which is enjoyable but the writing keeps raising my inner editor's warning sirens (Character perspectives change mid-paragraph! Repetition!). I also found True G…