*The Pointless Writer*
The name's A. Nonymous, but you can call me Mundaneity. I'm here to write about Everything and Nothing, but mostly Nothing. Take a Rainbow with me to Nothingham.
Hunky muse employed. Job applications closed. ;-*
UnPoints of Note
1. If I write anything that offends you, please leave a tag or search Mundaneity on Facebook and complain on my Wall. I'll think about taking the post down.
Confessions of an ugly Stepsister
“So what books are you going to read now our holidays have come?”
None at all, I told my friend with a strange laugh I have never heard myself emit. Strangled, strangely incredulous, altogether unexpected. Perhaps it was a portent of its innate untruth for, barely a day later, I retracted my reply: having more time on my hands during the interim provided by job-hunting, I’d attempted to write a review of Iron Man 3 and discovered that all my non-music vocabulary had just about upped and died. Now, having finished the book, the English language centre in my brain is up and running again, and words flow with delicious ease, in much the same manner as wind blows and waterfalls... fall.
So I grabbed my paperback copy of Confessions of an ugly Stepsister from the nearest library, curious as to Maguire's take on a famous fairy tale. He didn't disappoint. From the start, the characters in the book are developed so independently that, when the novel started converging to the original tale, I was almost disappointed. Each character is so real and so ingeniously reinvented that I can scarcely believe he took any inspiration from the tale at all. The original tale is merely old skin, barely clinging to the story which has shed it in favour of a larger, more complex form. It in no way defines the novel, suggesting only a shadow that pales in comparison with the subtle colours and contours of the actual tale. All the main characters are there, redefined in name, character, and origin, along with many others. It is this closeness yet distance which makes the read so delicious.
The use of the present tense throughout the book sets a more realistic stage than I ever thought possible. I was sucked into the story on every browning page, privy to Iris' (the titled stepsister's) inmost thoughts and reflections--her fancies, her self doubt, her fears--and living them with her. No longer a spectator looking upon past secrets, but secrets that are here and now. Meanwhile, the skillful use of sentence fragments paints a picture in a way it seems whole sentences do not. I was forced to see, in my mind's eye, each detail as Iris saw it. And this makes the stage all the more real, for we do not think in sentences or structure what we see as we see it. We add the frame after catching the details in poor grammatical fragments.
Ever the optimist and always desiring my happy ending, I must confess the book did not leave the best taste in my mouth. I hoped for the realization of the dream, even after all the ugliness in these characters' lives. But Maguire is not Disney, and I am in a way thankful for that (for Disney does not deliver such compelling lives), and the book ends in his way, which I cannot complain about. The dream is incomplete, and what stands is not detailed as I had desired, but it's okay. Isn't that life?
*The writer refers to Disney versions.
Part of the Common Crowd
All of us yearn in some way for normality. However extraordinary we wish to be, we desire to be a common kind of extraordinary: skilled, wealthy, having many friends. Our innate desire to be common is a by-product of our instinctive longing to ‘fit in’; and as long as we fit in somewhere, we are common in that context, even if not outside of it. For instance, a group of rebels priding themselves on fighting commonality have in fact established for themselves a separate order of it: attempts to fight what is perceived as ‘normal’ become the normal in this context.
At this stage in life, as a student, small talk primarily revolves around school and desired career. When I reply “Music” to the socially constructed question “What are you studying now?” I invariably get surprised expressions embellished by interest. The logical follow-up question “What instrument do you play?” is awkward because nobody says “I play my voice.” Oftentimes, human presumptuousness results in the comment “You must play the piano very well then” in place of this question. Additional surprise results once my instrument is revealed. “Oh! You sing?” then comes out as brains scramble to come up with a response now that there is no automated reply designed by societal norms.
I enjoyed this the first few times. Similar to yet conflicting with our desire for commonality is our desire for extraordinariness, our want to be special. I enjoyed being special. But the novelty wore off after a while. I gave an awkward, polite smile as they said “that’s very unique” and, when they queried why, gave the only possible answer: “I love it.” They would “ohh” in a way that betrayed lack of understanding and I would shift the topic to them instead.
Entering the Conservatory is a breath of fresh air. Music is normal. Music is common. There are no fewer singers than violinists and pianists. This year’s intake includes 5 singers and 2 trumpeters. Singers are no longer the minority. People don’t ask “what do you play?” I no longer have to contend with the syntactically incorrect “I play voice” or statement “I sing”, which technically doesn’t answer the question. Instead, the conversation starter is “what’s your major?” My answer “voice” is then deliciously grammatically correct.
It’s almost beautiful that I can now rave about what is generically termed “classical music” with people who rave about it too. That I have a friend who too is bowled over by the grandeur of group music-making: me as a chorister, her as a violinist, thinking “this is something larger than me” when the sound of a dozen musicians fills the concert hall in a heart-throbbing way that one voice (whether human or instrumental) never can. That there is peer pressure to practise the art I love daily. That I fit in, and am part of the common crowd.
Dictionary.com's Word of the Day
In honour of my Fringlish post, one of my personal absolute favourites, I've decided to share a Dictionary.com Word of the Day:
It highly resembles my Fringlish word "mumpfalump", for obvious reasons. I have to say I think mine's a lot catchier. It's the assonance, I'm sure. (See any word so far that you don't know the meaning of? That's what free online dictionaries are for, and there are plenty for you to take your pick from.)
I subscribed to Dictionary.com's daily email in an attempt to boost my vocabulary, which has never been great to start with and happily deteriorated not long after the 'A' Levels ended and I was no longer plagued by GP. (Those darn essays! Formal writing is not my forte.) This wasn't exactly helped by my holiday job: teaching in a primary school. Some of the most basic words earned me blank stares, not exactly the expression you hope to see in a classroom. With no context to show off my fancy vocabulary (which I've always had difficulty recalling anyway), I suffered the Child Language Use Syndrome--which my mother and all similar ancestors who've spent years teaching young children have each been afflicted with. Simply put, the CLUS sets in when you use too much kiddie language and can no longer speak like an adult. In extremely severe cases, it may sound like this:
GOOGOOGAHHHH… GAFUPBALUBBA TOO TOO…
In hospitalisable (disclaimer: may not be in the standard lexicon) cases, they may even mutate to look like this:
Because no agemate (another Word of the Day) can decipher their conversation contributions and we all know anger’s bad for your complexion.
My main complaint is that Dictionary.com tends to send me words that I would never use. Look at the example sentence for mumpsimus:
"I profess, my good lady," replied I, "that had any one but you made such a declaration, I should have thought it as capricious as that of the clergyman, who, without vindicating his false reading, preferred, from habit's sake, his old Mumpsimus...
-- Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman
If that’s the way to use the word, I might come off sounding like the obnoxious, posh-wannabe at the party of the year that nobody wants to talk to because her British accent is so obviously fake. I might as well stick myself in a cheap imitation of a Victorian dress and prance around saying “oohlala!”
However, I do get some fun words that sound as if I could actually throw them into general conversation:
This town is chockablock with restaurants that are just clones of the same old themes.
-- Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
Glutch: to swallow
It’s like the word “masticate” which is the weird word for chewing that makes people think of a rather different process.
So I shan’t remove my email from the mailing list just yet.
The Day the Water Dam Broke.
On Sunday, the 24th of June 2012, the sweet silent serenity of my home was broken by a shrill scream.
Such a treble voice, capable of impressing even the heavens with its skyward reach and fortissimo capabilities, could only belong to one person: Mum.
Being the loving daughter that I am, well-acquainted with the theatrics of my source of life, I momentarily diverted half my mental resources to listening for an elaboration, if it was coming, while continuing my studying. My father (my other source of life) was rather more proactive—well, he had chosen to spend the rest of his life with the next Sarah Brightman—and asked, “What? Is it a lizard?”
“THERE’S NO WATER!!!!” Came what would have been a thunderous reply if it had been far, far lower-pitched. And this was followed by an encore of the earlier performance. My mother may have indeed been a siren in another life.
“No water?” Dad exclaimed as if such a phenomenon was unheard of and completely impossible, given Singapore’s aqueous climate and the fact that most of our water comes from Malaysia anyway. It’s not like we’re ever going to have a drought. (Unless you want to argue that in war-time, we may not have the ka-ching to buy what makes up 75% of the earth’s matter. But that’s really not relevant to this story. Go somewhere else to debate the definition of ‘drought’.)
“The water was half-stream earlier!” I piped up helpfully, and then instantly felt guilty for drinking so much water.
I shall not waste words (and your eye power) recounting the following discussion word for word. Here are the minutes: we had not received any notice, neither at the lift landing nor in our mail, that there would be pipe maintenance and a momentary lack of water. Hence, it was inconceivable that we would be out of water.
After a lot of drama about not shitting in the toilet because we wouldn’t be able to flush it down, we came to a highly logical and problem-solving solution: as resourceful Singaporeans (we are the nation’s most prized resource), we would go elsewhere for water. My brother and I trooped over to SAFRA to refill every water bottle we had in the house so we had drinking water and to bathe at the pool showers so we wouldn’t die from our own B.O. during the night while we dreamt stinky, stinky dreams. It was also a prime chance to get rid of any undigested waste material… and being able to flush it down.
I, personally, derived extra pleasure from the fact that our SAFRA memberships got us into the pool free and we literally had free baths: free water, free soap. (No shampoo, but my hair can get shot for one day. It’s okay, really. Don’t cry.) And if you’re going to argue about the cost of the memberships, I’m going to kick you to the Bahamas. Right now. Seriously.
My parents chose to head over to the library, not because the library has shower facilities but because they wanted to borrow books. What did you think they went there for?
Now comes the moment I provide you enlightenment and you have that AHA moment I read about in some thinking book. (It might have been by Edward de Bono. It might not have been.)
On our way out to exercise our Singaporean resourcefulness, we found a flood. Flood. Drought. Flood downstairs. Drought upstairs. Hmm… It seemed a main pipe had broken behind locked doors and we were completely reliant on PUB sending someone to fix it though I know I could have done the job with masking tape. Meanwhile, the water was pouring out from under the doors to heaven and filling earthly drains for street urchins to frolic in. Just kidding. About the urchin part anyway. They were resident kids who didn’t know what diseases they were contracting from our now filthy water as it pranced along the cement floor, where lap dogs sometimes poop as lap dogs do and their owners pretend not to know they’re supposed to pick it up (as inconsiderate owners do), leaving the stool behind for unsuspecting residents to step on and then attempt to wipe off on the rest of the floor as they walk along, resulting in a long shitty trail of bacteria. Which was now being washed away by the area’s new wading pool.
Dad had refused to bathe at SAFRA, insisting the water would have climbed up to our apartment on the fifteenth floor through the newly fixed pipe by the time we got back from the library and dinner. Whaddya know? He was right! But hey, I still got a free bath.
Universal Studios Singapore: A Review
This writer apologises for another lengthy absence. Her excuse is a little more varied this time: work, choir, studies, house-packing, and an absent muse. As a peace-offering, she has written a review of Singapore’s current most desirable destination: Universal Studios Singapore. Be warned: it’s going to be a loooong ride. P.S. I've written select phrases in bold for easier scanning and navigating through this post.
According to Wikipedia, Universal Studios Singapore opened its heart-palpitating doors to the general public on 28 May 2011. Being the hopeful tortoise that I am, I took my time making my way there, dreaming that prices might drop in the near future after all the hype died down. Also, having been to countless amusement parks including Warner Bros. Movie World in Gold Coast, Australia, and having enjoyed my fair share of vomit-inducing roller coasters, I was a little lazy to make the trip to Sentosa all the way from Boon Lay just to pay $74 (!!!) for an old experience. No matter how fun being upside-down and almost free-falling can be.
To be honest, I never might have visited the theme park if not for Burger King. With a touch of his yummilicious sceptre, he granted me a 1 Day Peak Period Adult Pass into head-spinning, monkey-howling insanity. I was, of course, utterly delighted. I never expected that creating a measly three coupons on BK’s coupon generator would yield me the coveted ticket into my dream home. In fact, I’d only bothered to create those coupons in order to get my free dessert with my upsized-meal, the only guaranteed plus of the coupons. Winning a lucky draw? Pft. Unheard of, impossible, and completely and unarguably unlikely. And then it happened.
Ruled by cautious logic, I figured my eyes were deceiving me, or that the email was in fact a prank by some low-life spammer, or that the King had sent the email to the wrong address, since the email rather generically began “Hi there”. So I decided to call up the King himself, who answered in a rather feminine voice. It seemed that he hadn’t deigned to waste breath speaking to me personally. Ah well. I was lucky enough to have been blessed by his beefy sceptre. I would take what I got.
Then began the planning. Which day should I go on? What should I wear? Which rides should I target first? Knowing that it is not uncommon for working adults to take leave before and after weekends for short overseas trips with their families, I decided Wednesday was the best day to go. Stepping into the shoes of the stereotypical Kiasu Singaporean, I even figured that the last week of the June hols was a no-no as people would be back in Singapore to prepare for the next semester and might squeeze in a last bit of local fun. With my schedule book with choir till my concert on 10 June, it seemed we (my brother and I) were left with only the week 11-17 June. Since I wasn’t free that Wednesday, we went on Thursday, 14 June. Now, as lengthy as this paragraph is, don’t complain, because it’s really a tip to help you pick a less crowded day to go.
So my younger brother (whose ticket was covered by my mother and me) and I excitedly planned out the rides we wanted to hit first and then embarked on a magical journey of cinematography and topsy-turvy roller coaster rides. (Yes, the review is finally starting.) We arrived at 9.10am, way earlier than my planned 9.30am, but it was just as well, for the queue started to build up even though the park only opens at 10am.
We planned to hop on Transformers: The Ride first, since my wise father had informed us it was the most popular and to go before the rest of the crowd started streaming in. However, it seemed the Fates favoured us… We got slightly lost and ended up at Battlestar Galactica: Cylon instead. Where the queue was stated to be only 5 minutes long. Seeing the crowd rushing for Transformers, we happily hopped onto Cylon to get our guts thrown about in all directions. We were the only 2 on the roller coaster. This was my brother’s first time on a corkscrew since the last time when I’d gone on one at Warner Bros. Movie World, he’d been too short. However, I really must say that I was IMPRESSED, because by the end of the day (the queue for BG remained 5-10mins for most of the day), he’d gone on it SIX TIMES. More than me, his aged sister, who only went 5 times because mine stomach doth protest. In fact, I was already nauseous by my 2nd ride, but since my stomach regained normality once on terra firma, I continued going and feeling sick during the ride. I only stopped when I continued to feel sick once on-ground for more than a minute. In my defense, the nausea was caused largely by an empty stomach. I’d run out of food—we brought our own to cut costs, because we’d easily have eaten $30 worth of food each, given our appetites and the over-inflated prices—and wasn’t willing to buy a $10 hotdog. I feel a bit miffed that I hadn’t brought more food, because halfway through the day, my brother proposed going on Cylon 10 times. That would have been one for the record books. As added fun, for our 4th and 5th rides together, my brother proposed we sing during the ride. Apparently, he got it off some reality show. Being the nerd I am, I chose to sing “When the Saints go marching in”, “Humpty Dumpty” and some nursery rhyme about a duke and his men going up a hill while he sang some pop song.
Anyway, Cylon is fantastic, but it’s pretty much the only high-thrill ride you’ll find at USS, where “high-thrill” is defined as “inclusive of legs hanging free to create the illusion of free-falling during downward segments of the roller coaster and lots of upside-down moments”. So if you’re only interested in that and not in the special effects Universal Studios is known for, you’re better off saving $74. How you know Cylon is 100% pure awesomeness? Both of us couldn’t walk straight the first time we got off. Also, when I went to bed that night, I was spinning in circles in the dark, even though opening my eyes and seeing my immobile room let me know I was perfectly still. And I felt like puking when I got home. ^^
After our first Cylon ride, we rushed to Transformers, where it seemed the queue had cleared and we only waited 10-15mins. One word: INCROYABLE. (French for “unbelievable”. See, I even have to use a foreign language to emphasise how AMAZING the ride is.) The graphics are spectacular. No one was joking when they said the ride will put us right in the middle of the action we so love watching. Visually, you seldom see proof that any of it is merely the work of a 3D screen; the only times you are reminded none of this is real are when the car turns and you see the unexciting drab grey walls. However, of 4D, there was only a slight sprinkling of water. No heat when the missile came towards us. That was a bit disappointing as my heartbeat instantly slowed when my sense of touch did not confirm the information coming from my sense of sight. Note: first row is undeniably better. When we first went on the ride, we were in the last row, and the heads in front constantly reminded me that this was pure fiction. The second time we went, we queued for 40mins (it was our last ride of the day and we joined the queue at 5.25pm), but it was all worth it because we ended up in the first row and the rest of the world faded away as Transformers took over everything I knew.
After that, since we were nearer to it and there was no queue, we decided to hop onto the Accelerator which is basically a glamourised version of spinning teacups. This ride was straight out disappointing. We hopped on expecting a fairly tame ride since we’ve been spinning in circles since kindergarten without the help of machinery, but this was… let’s just say the robotic voice announcing the need to accelerate became pretty lame when we barely felt the breeze. My fan at home provides a stronger wind than the “Deccelerator” (my brother’s nickname for the ride). “Dizzy” wasn’t even in the dictionary while we sat there waiting for the action to start only to discover it was over. I would put my 2-year-old kid on the ride if I had one.
Next, we decided to try out Battlestar Galactica: Human, which was labeled “tame” by a reviewer on Trip Advisor. It was quite fun, but after Cylon, it was like a stroll in the park. My main lamentation for the BG rides is that I couldn’t see much since I’m as blind as a bat without my spectacles. Apparently, downward whooshes aren’t as scary when you can’t see the depth of the fall because you have no glasses on.
Finally, we left the future and headed on to the past to suffer the Revenge of the Mummy. Before I go on to that, I want to drop a tip on lockers, in which you MUST leave your belongings before going on the fast rides Mummy and BG. The lockers are free for the first 30-50mins, depending which one you go to. If the queue for BG is 5-10mins max, you can safely fit 2 rides within the half-hour for the Sci-Fi City lockers so you don’t get slapped with a hefty fine, provided you run from the lockers to the ride and back. We ambitiously tried to squeeze in 3 and had to pay $3 because our locker usage exceeded by 4mins. How sad is that? And trust me, you won’t want to leave your stuff in the locker the whole day because that $3 only covers 20mins. The more ingenious visitors will realize that if you’re willing and able to run back every half-hour, you can effectively leave your bag there for an extended period of time without paying a cent. Back to our favourite mummy. The “plunge into total darkness” (I quote the USS Studio Guide) is only really scary if the kid in you still pisses in his pants at the thought of monsters under the bed. If not, it’s more dizzying than anything else when ‘scary’ images flash in the darkness. The best part of the ride was a short backward trip, which sadly ended almost before it had begun. During our two times on this ride, my brother happily pointed out the book in the ghostly robot’s hand as he threatened us, telling us that if we didn’t find the Book of Life, our souls would be his. Really. I’m quivering in my boots right now. Although USS boasts of this as a high-speed ride, personally, I find the darkness so dulls my senses that I can barely feel the momentum.
Since the shows at USS have fixed times, I made sure to keep an eye on the clock and we made our way to WaterWorld for the 12.30pm water show, arriving about 15mins before, munching $6 nachos (the only food I found reasonably priced) on the way. The pyrotechnics was pretty cool, with explosions all over the place and fire burning on the water. I videotaped almost the whole show on my brother’s hand phone and then the Fates decided to have a huge laugh at my expense: my finger slipped and tapped something and the video closed just in time to miss the fireworks. -.- The storyline itself was pretty boring and the acting was far from great, but the staff did very well filling in the time as the audience waited for the show to start. They were cheeky, energetic, playful, humourous and comical.
After that, we planned to go to the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, but I wanted to check the show times for Shrek 4D Adventure first. Since the next show was in 15mins and my Dad had said USS specializes in effects, I figured we should prioritise the show over the potentially not-very-high-thrill ride, and we went for it. Shrek was fun. I’m not a techie so I can’t do much judging. It definitely wasn’t as real as Transformers simply because you can see a few hundred in the audience. The show is two-part. You stand for a while in a ‘holding room’ of sorts listening to the Mirror on the Wall recap one of the Shrek movies. The recap is boring (but essential for anyone who hasn’t watched the movie, I guess) and the Three Little Pigs and Pinocchio with their interjections are a bit annoying, but I like the Mirror—despite being only a white mask, he’s facially very expressive. After that, you move into the auditorium. The plot isn’t great but the 3D visuals are still enjoyable.
Finally, we joined the queue for the Rapids ride. And this was where I made my worst decision the whole day: I left it. Why? The queue was 25mins, which wasn’t very long (not like the 2-hour queue that was mentioned in another review on Trip Advisor), so we SHOULD have stayed. However, it meant that we would miss the next showing of Monster Rock at 2.30pm and the next one wasn’t till 6.10pm. And I wasn’t sure that we would stay that late since we’d exhausted the high-thrill rides and the rest of the rides were kiddy ones, apart from the Rapids ride. Also, I love music and I wanted to watch a musical. Here’s why I regret leaving the queue and going for the show: both the singing and dancing were not great. I was honestly very disappointed. I expected that in USS, supposedly a world-class attraction, they would have world-class performances as well. Alas, it seemed the comparable lack of Singapore’s investment in the arts scene was showing even in a world-famous amusement park. I’ll admit that with classical training, I’m particularly sensitive to pitch. No one actually sang completely out-of-tune; they were just on the flat end of the right notes for the most part. However, I also acknowledge the difficulty of dancing while singing. The physical effort is phenomenal. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were bad. But the dancing is equally mediocre. Who knows? Maybe I expected too much of an amusement park. Maybe the performances in other Universal Studios are as mediocre and that’s why the performers are in a theme park instead of on Broadway. Just… don’t prioritise this if you like high-thrill rides and have high standards for the arts.
After the show was when we did a lot of running around, going to check the Rapids queue and then returning to re-ride various rides and checking and re-riding etc etc . In between, we popped into Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg for its 10min show. I consider this the best show and second best for effects after Transformers. I found the setting a bit confusing and I wasn’t sure whether we were supposed to be experiencing the hurricane or watching a set where the hurricane. And the set seemed a bit off. But I loved the recording which said “cue” and “cut. Reset to 1.” It contributed to the whole on-set atmosphere. For the record, our total rides for the day: Cylon (5 times together), Human (twice), Mummy (twice) and Transformers (twice). The queue for the Rapids never went below 70mins and we ended up leaving the park at 6.25pm when it STILL said 70mins. :’(
All in all, USS is a good destination for those who aren’t particularly high-thrill seekers and for those with kids. Basically, every ride I haven’t mentioned is tame and suitable for kids. The only really high-thrill ride is Cylon, and potentially the Rapids. I can’t judge the effects very well, but unless you have a very good eye for them (maybe you study such stuff), you’ll enjoy them. The best stuff any high-thrill seeking teenager MUST go for: Cylon, Transformers and Light! Camera! Action!
The Hunger Games Trilogy
“You like sci-fi? Read the Hunger Games.”
That’s the typical response I get when making small talk involving reading preferences. I must have heard what the trilogy was about at some point in time, because I had somehow come to associate it with darkness and planned to never pick it up.
But eventually (recently), pick it up I did, for one of the strangest reasons: my younger brother got caught in the Hunger craze and my mum wanted me to check what he was reading. Now, I have a few points to make about the trilogy.
1. It’s not really sci-fi.
I don’t know exactly how science fiction is defined, but I tend to only count something as sci-fi if it has a really strong scientific element. Sure, the Hunger Games trilogy has hints of sci-fi, but the book focuses on a dystopian society more than the development of mutts and other torture instruments. Of course, this is the girl who read (and loved) Issac Asimov’s highly theoretical novels without ever understanding the physics behind hyperspace speaking.
2. Action-packed? What about characterization?
I’m not a fan of action genre books, so I can’t really make any comments on the praise the trilogy has received for its action. Nor on its un-put-downable-ness, since I’m an addictive sort of reader and any book I can put down is either linguistically challenging or terribly dry.
What I really like about the books are their development of the characters and character relationships. Katniss, of course, being the narrator, grows most obviously. The books are not just about the oppression of the districts and violence of human nature as shown by the Capitol’s love for the Games. They are about the exploration of self: Who is Katniss? What does she believe in? What does she treasure? She changes in the course of the trilogy, corrupted and traumatized by her experiences in the arena. In the first book, she would never have consented to a final, vengeful Hunger Game. But by the third book, broken by the loss of her sister, for whom she gave everything, she votes, “Yes… for Primrose.”
3. The books have not reached their full potential.
The themes in the trilogy are excellent. They are timeless. I was quite horrified by the ongoings of Mockingjay because I’m a fairly sheltered teen, but when I reflected on the book, I realized that… similar violence IS going on in war-stricken countries. People may not be mauled by muttations or have their flesh melted off by golden light, but we can be assured such weapons would be used in war if they existed. Biological warfare. Psychological warfare. These things are real, even if their forms in the trilogy are fictional.
However, while the books have their excellent points and I think Suzanne Collins has struck gold, the gold is not yet gleaming, not perfect for sale. Many plot points hang loose, incomplete, undeveloped. The authoress thanks her husband for posing questions she never asked herself, and therein lies the problem. There are still questions she has not answered.
Her convoluted writing in Mockingjay reflects Katniss’ state of mind, broken by the Games, but a better writer would have been able to drop in more hints for readers to piece together what happens in the book. After all, it is targeted at youths, many of whom would be confused by what’s “real or not real” and who exactly Katniss has become by book three.
All in all, the trilogy had many emotional scenes, like Rue’s death and the breaking of Peeta (and his unconditional, inexplicable love for Katniss), which stick in my mind and haunt me. And this is what made me enjoy the trilogy—the strong emotions and striking scene descriptions present in it. But I do not love the books because they are still unpolished.
New Zealand Natural
Yes, yes, I'm finally back. I've been wondering why I set this blog up too. Without confidence that even one lonely soul is reading this, AND a hectic schedule of work, choir and choir, I momentarily lost my writing drive. Zombies and gargoyle gummies! But anyway, the key thing is that I'm back, and with the new year (I'm sure the year starts in March somewhere in the world), I have a new type of post! This is officially my FIRST food review ever. In line with the theme of new, new, NEW, I also happen to be writing this on my first touch phone (android) which came all at once with a data plan. Talk about tech shock for a tech dino. For the interested, I'm using the OliveOffice app, which is... dumdumdum... FREE! What? Don't look at me like that. I'm a working student! (Heehee. Slight oxymoron.) I've got to be cheapo about some things. ;) But enough on this—on to the food!
I wasn't actually intending to set foot into New Zealand Natural (at NEX). My student's eye and sweet tooth were set on Mad Jack's teatime offer. It just so happened that I missed the offer time and as I was wondering about aimlessly, NZN's well-designed wall caught my eye. Apparently, the place specializes in ice cream, though it isn't obvious from the soups, salads, pastas and pastries screaming for attention on this menu-cum-wall. I was actually about to bookmark the place mentally and check out Putien's queue instead, but the well-trained eye of NZN's staff caught sight of me and she lured me in with friendly smiles and superpersuasion.
Well, faced with $5.90 mushroom pasta and a mere $3.50 add-on for ice lemon tea, soup of the day (mushroom!) and ANY ice cream of my choice, I was as helpless as a turtle in a tree. I went in.
First to arrive was my ice lemon tea, which I later realised was missing its lemon slice, later being when I finished my meal. -.- Ohwell, it's not like I don't like plain tea, plus I'd FINISHED mine. So, I was lemonless for the night.
Next to be heralded was my mushroom soup. Mm mm. I was expecting soup from a can, which is what we usually get at such affordable prices, but I was delighted to discover real mushroom soup thick with mushroom bits and... were my tastebuds deceiving me? Truffle oil? My main course hadn't even arrived and I was in heaven.
Let's not forget the presentation of the food. Who can resist a heart-shaped bowl?
And those crunchy croutons!
My carefully twirled aglio olio didn't disappoint either, though it was a tad too spicy for my wussy tongue. My OCD senses were thoroughly satisfied by the even spreading of shitake mushrooms throughout the dish. I would have found the portion slightly small had the price been higher, but as it was, I was pleased to have space for my 3-course meal + drink.
As shown here, one ice-cream short.
The runaway ice-cream, recaptured.
A close-up of my carefully twirled aglio olio, mushrooms OCD-style.
Service was fantastic and NZN is one of the rare places I don't feel ripped off when adding those nasty percentages to menu prices. Imagine my delight when I realised menu prices were COMPLETELY tax-inclusive! I was actually looking for a tip box to express my satisfaction. Astonishing.
I love that I was allowed to finish my whole meal before deciding on my desired ice cream flavour, which, by the way, was only restricted to... THE WHOLE MENU! Talk about one of the best deals I've ever come across.
They even have sorbet!
Although there was nothing remotely Kiwi about my meal besides the supposed bits of kiwi in my creamy Manuka Honey ice-cream, I love everything about this place—food, presentation and service, and I will DEFINITELY return.
Even the syrup for tea is almost gone!