The State of Sydney – 23 Sep 2009

Orange SydneyOrange Sydney

On Wednesday last week I woke up in the morning to find all the windows in my house glowing red. I mean blood red. Not sunrise red. Later I went out into the orange wilderness, dust and wind. The streets looked deserted and there weren’t many people around. I went to work anyway. Good old me. If it were the end of the world, what was I thinking spending my last day at work?!

Though it wasn’t an apocalypse like what many people may have thought upon waking up, it was a monumental weather event. It’s the worst attack of orange dust storm in Australia for the past 70 years, or possibly ever. I guess I was only half aware of it so I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have. But I can present you the two glorious photos I took with my iPhone on my way to work. Un-photoshopped.

Disney Literature Challenge


Sarah Miller started Disney Literature Challenge last year and I’d been waiting for a chance to jump in! This time it will be official, for I just finished A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. (Surely you knew it was made into a Disney movie?!)

I love love love Disney cartoons, though mostly the old ones than the new ones. My favorite is probably still Cinderella, because it’s just so happy, with the singing mice, funny fat cat, and pumpkin carriage (What’s not to love?). I still watch it once in a while as an adult. It’s my happy movie. It’s where I go when I want to be in the happy state. That’s the good thing about Disney movies. You know they’re gonna be safe. You know everyone is gonna be happy at the end.

Not to say that my relationship with Disney has been all flowery.

The first time I felt betrayed, was when I watched The Little Mermaid. I read the original story by Christian Hans Andersen as a kid and watched another cartoon based on the story that stayed true to the original, and remember forever that it is one of the saddest story in fairy tale history. Disney ripped it and reconstructed it to become this cheap happy meaningless cartoony flick. I couldn’t believe my eyes! What a sin! That’s the bad thing about Disney movies. You know they’re gonna be safe. You know everyone is gonna be happy at the end.

We have our highs and lows, but it’s hard to argue that I grew up with Disney and it has enormous effect on me. I fell in love with a lot of its movies and shorts before I could even talk. Mom said I’d often walk, all chubby and wobbly, to turn on Disney cartoon videos, sit tight and laugh all the way through, ignoring everybody who visited our house. I was about 2.

I grew up reading Donald Duck comic who came into our house every week. Tuesday was my favorite day because that was its delivery day. My parents subscribed to the weekly comic after they saw me reading it intensely at some relatives’ house like my life depended on it. I believe we have at least 10 years worth of Donald Duck weekly comics collection so far (my parents finally stopped it after my brothers and I left the country for about a year or two).

The challenge is perpetual and laid back, so I’m not rushing to get to the “finish line” (if there’s any) nor do I have specific goals. I’d just love to keep track of any Disneyfied books that I read here. Sarah has a great list on her site, some of which I’ve never heard of, surprisingly (and I thought I was Disney’s biggest fan). She has read 8 books so far (check out her DLC series) and keeps track of the scores of Disney vs the authors.

Are you a fan of Disney? Which one is your favorite movie?

The battles in this series

  1. Disney vs. Dickens on A Christmas Carol
  2. Disney vs. Carroll on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  3. Disney vs. Milne on Winnie the Pooh
  4. Disney vs. Kipling on The Jungle Book

Related posts

Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

Silk by Alessandro Baricco and the Movie

The Book

SilkWritten in fable style, Silk tells a story of a silk merchant in southern France who is appointed by people in his vilage to make a long voyage to Japan in search of good quality of silkworms, as there’s an epidemic that ruins the regular supply of silkworms in their neighbourhood countries.
alessandro baricco

And so begins his long journey — which is comically told in a couple of paragraphs, back and forth every year from France to Japan. With every trip he gets a little more glimpse of a young woman that he meets in Japan — a concubine of the warlord he makes the business deal with. Meanwhile he has a wife who is ever so loyal waiting for him at home.

Without giving anything away, I bet you could already sense that where ever it’s going it’s not going to somewhere pretty.

Silk is a short and sweet novella with a tinge of sadness. It is a story about unhappiness in everyone of us, no matter what we already have.

It’s satisfying read for such a short book.

4 stars
1996 (Italian), 1997 (English), 91 pp

Read for: Lost in Translation Challenge (book #3), Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2009 (book #9), (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge (book #5), 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge, Reading the World


The Movie

Silk (2007)

Being the book-to-movie buff that I am, I couldn’t wait to check out the movie almost straight away.

The biggest difference with the book is that the girl in Japan is not a white girl as in the book, though she’s said to be Chinese in the movie, not Japanese too (in real life she is Japanese). I don’t know why this was made so, but I guess a Japanese chick in the poster and trailer would be a much better attraction (because then it’d be white chick vs Japanese chick kind of movie).

Positive points: gorgeous setting, pretty girls (I’m always fond of Keira Knightley and the Japanese girl was gorgeous).

Negative points: Michael Pitt as Hervé Joncour didn’t work well (who is he anyway? never heard of him before), the hairstyle of the Japanese girls looks very modern which didn’t go well with the 1800s setting.

The colorful birds that Hara Jubei (the Japanese warlord) is supposed to keep in his backyard was not portrayed in the movie. I guess that would cost quite a bit to do. But what a shame. It would have been a stunning shot. I remember the colorful birds clearly from the book because I thought it was a great symbol of the Japanese girl role as his concubine, his pet.

Somehow the story felt a bit more unsatisfactory by watching the film, even though it stays true to the book. The tale became the old obsession-with-what-you-can’t-have and it left me and hubby somewhat discontent.

Rating: 7/10

Book also reviewed by

Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? | A Striped Armchair | 1morechapter | Bart’s Bookshelf | Stuff as Dreams Are Made On | Big Book, Big Evil | Jules’ Book Reviews | Reading Matters

Mailbox Monday: Books Alive Campaign, Indonesian Writer, and More

It’s books galore! Okay I actually acquired these books in the past 3 weeks or so, but was late in posting them, so let me do them in one go!

Books Alive 2009

First is the result of Books Alive campaign in Australia. They compiled a list of 50 Books You Can’t Put Down (check out the list from the website if you incline) and offer a free book for whichever book you buy out of the ones in the list. There are 2 options of free book and I picked the 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year (the other one is a kid book, though cute, is very short). And the book that I bought from the list: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. Can it be more Aussie?!

I used the $10 gift card I got from nuffnang. It’s not the most creative way to spend it, I know. But really, a chance to spend it on book? How could I resist? It’s just humanly impossible for book bloggers…

The Slap10-short-stories-you-must-read-this-year

The second batch is one that I’m very excited about. It’s Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan. When I stumbled upon the website I thought it would be great if I could review the book so I shot Kathleen the publicist an email and she was happy to send me a copy. Erick Setiawan has very similar background as mine. We’re both born in Indonesia to Chinese parents. He left the country when he was 16 and I was 17. He went to USA and I went to Australia. He took Computer Science degree and I took Software Engineering. He’s 6 years older than me. I guess if I’m ever to write a book, it’s reasonable to set a goal to publish it 6 years from now ;)

Of Bees and Mist

I got the next two from Vinnies the charity/thrift store for 40 cents each or something: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s role author, and Swahili for the Brokenhearted by Peter Moore. Last is UTS Writers Anthology 2007: What you do and don’t want. $2 from Basement Books. I heart Basement Books.

Things Fall ApartSwahili for the Broken-heartedUTS Writers Anthology

Have you read any of these books before? Are you interested to? Did you get any books last week?

Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page.

Movie Mini-Review: Dolls


Japanese, 2002

“Westerners loathe the notion of death. There is no reason. Life is considered to be something meaningful. There is no religion which justifies the notion of death. In Japan, there’s no philosophy. So death seems something sublime, once it’s decorated with an ornament like love. You’ll find something creeping towards you and that is a seducing demon called death.” ~ Takeshi Kitano, Director

Dolls tells three entwining tales of all-consuming crazy kind of love: The first concerns a man who leaves his fiance for a daughter of his company head. A failed attempt of suicide leaves his former love loses her mind. He runs back to her and they roam the country together, bound by a red cord. Their journey opens the other two stories: An ageing yakuza reminiscing about his girlfriend who he left in his youth in pursuit of career. Decades later he’s compelled to return to the park where they used to meet. The last tale is about a fan who’s willing to go really far for his object of obsession.

It’s a quiet story that might drag at a few points (umm sometimes literally) but the visual is stunning with vibrant colors and Japan setting, and the stories are haunting. Worth watching. (Rating: 7/10)

The post was supposed to be mini reviews where I compile several movies together, but the poster is so good I felt it deserves its own post! Don’t you think it’s just stunning?! The image is a good representation of much of the movie. Make sure you watch the trailer to have a better feel!

Dolls Official Website (English)

If you have watched it, what do you think of the movie? If you haven’t, are you now interested to?

Sunday Salon: RIP Short Story Sunday etc


RIP Short Story Sundays

(hosted by Carl)

I thought I’d mention a couple of stories that I read this week that coincides with RIP spirit. I’ve just finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and one of the short story that comes with the book is House of Flowers, which I thought had a bit odd balance of 3/4 love story and 1/4 creepy story. Apparently it’s made into musical in 1954!

On Friday, I finished the Tiffany’s book on the way to work and I didn’t have anything to read on the way back (which is a big deal, because the commute normally takes about 1 hour one way!) I was in panic mode for a bit before getting the idea to print out several pages of A Christmas Carol by Dickens at the office. Then I realized that I could actually read it on my iPhone too (I have several free books there for emergency).

By the by, has anyone tried to read books on their iPhone? The screen size is not bad I guess and you can adjust the font size and color, but I still prefer paper compared to screen, even though it’s an extra thing I have to carry in my bag.

Review Thing

good reading magazine August 2009

My review of Purple Hibiscus is printed on goodreading magazine August 2009 edition!

Made me happy :)

Appreciation Thing

Mark David @ absorbed in words has graciously passed me the Zombie Chicken award. You should visit his wonderful blog too! Thank you Mark!


“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken– excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.”

Risking the wrath of the zombie chickens, I may choose to pass it on later, since looks like a lot of people have already got it!

Has it been a good week for you? Hope it has! And happy Sunday!

The Sunday

Kabuki: The Metamorphosis by David Mack

Kabuki: MetamorphosisI first heard of Kabuki from Carl’s blog and picked it up from the library not long ago (a review that makes me run to the library to get a copy is sure one hell of a great review). Somehow my library had only Kabuki: The Metamorphosis, which after halfway reading I found out was actually the fifth in Kabuki series. *knock myself in the head*

People say however that you can read the graphic novels in the series as standalones, as a lot of the back story is often repeated.

Kabuki: Metamorphosis starts with Kabuki, one of the secret assassins, caught by the organization she works for, and held in some kind of ward. The psychiatrist asks her about her past and background. She plays along, but with escape plan in mind. Here we get to know her history. Her mother is a Kabuki player during war time, who attracts a general. The general pays her so much attention that he neglects his own son. Growing up hating the woman, on the supposed wedding day between the woman and the general, the son rapped and hurt her, leaving a conceived child in the womb. The woman dies giving birth and the general raises the baby girl, who later becomes an assassin of his organization. Kabuki is her code name. Meanwhile, the general’s son never feels remorse, only more hatred to find that his act results in an unwanted child.

Reading Kabuki is all so dream-like. The art style makes everything feels abstract: the characters, their mind and their reality. Like in limbo state. Even the text often goes all around in circles that made me need to turn the book around and round to read it. At a few points the pages are filled with small tiny text scattered all over that I had to skim some in order to move on (otherwise it’s gonna take me forever). So that’s a bit of my grudge.

But how lovely lovely arts. Almost all the pages resemble paintings of high quality. His myriad of styles are very interesting as well. David Mack used water color, crayon, ballpoint, pencil, even collages of manga scan and photos. Below is sample of the drawings in the book:




I love his drawings of the Japanese/Asian women. They seem to resemble the real ones closely, face and body. It’s a breath of fresh air to not see women with exaggerated boobs in graphic novel.

I had a hard time rating this. There’s little plot, and it focuses mostly thoughts, memories, dreams, and philosophy. But I think the plot is beside the point for this graphic novel. As an art book it’s excellent. As an experience it’s one of a kind. So make of it as you like. As with other graphic novels, I have rate for art and story. I’ll give 3 for story and 5 for art, which makes it a 4 stars.

4 stars
2001, 280 pp

David Mack Official Site


Read for Graphic Novels Challenge 2009 (book #16).

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