issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
1. Work

[letter to client] Dear client, as discussed, you need to pay $XXX.
[client's reply] I got your letter. So how much do I need to pay?
*facepalm*

2. K-drama

Yup, still obssessed with Goblin. I'm a bit sad that there isn't more fic - at least, those that aren't in Korean. Quite a few on AO3 are m/m fics, which I'm not at all invested in. -_- I really want to explore the canon pairings more.

In other news, am following Tunnel because time-travel and crime-solving and serial killers, who doesn't like that? (Do note: The Youtube clip contains images of female victims.) And just started Ruler: Master of the Mask, which I've heard one commentator describe as a fusion between Man in the Iron Mask and the Prince and the Pauper but in sageuk form. Heh. It's pretty awesome so far.

3. Should I be watching k-drama if I also trying to brush up on my Japanese?
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
1. Although the kids whom I threatened with classroom eviction yesterday would not have guessed it. At least it stopped them wondering around and back to their seats.

2. I posted the April themes for 31_days at LJ. I feared there would be too many Goblin quotes (hah) and had to hastily make do with handy books on the table.

3. If anyone is curious, my Goblin fic is here (WIP). I'm trying and failing to satisfy myself about the future Goblin-verse.

4. Finally seeing a sign of recovery from persistent flu. As in, today I realised I could smell my food!

5. Clearly, going outdoors is detrimental while one has the flu is unwise as I now have multiple mosquito bites. (Usually I have a good awareness of whether I am going to get bitten and avoid them. But reflexes are currrently subpar.)
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1) Job: I found a job! \\o// clearly. Conveyancing's not quite my first choice but I like it well enough, having done it for a short stretch last year. People at my new office seem ok and are professional about work, which I feel comfortable with.

2) Which hurriedly throws a wrench into my teaching schedule. (The new office wanted me to start asap.) Originally I was relaaaaaxingly teaching a mere three classes every Saturday, but with a full-time job, there's some serious juggling of my free time. The easy solution is to give up the teaching, but I feel reluctant about doing so. For one thing, I like it; it's almost like a hobby, if one with annoying bits like marking homework.

3) OMG Goblin. I'm astonished at myself for still being hung on a k-drama more than a month after it ended, but I am. Intellectually, I know that it has flaws: slow plot development, lots of repeating sequences (though that's part of the fun, to me), the strong hints of predestination, but frankly I don't notice while I'm watching (or even, re-watching) it. It's an experience, all right. I've ignored Sherlock (still ignoring) for it.

4) So, Goblin fic. What really makes me grrr is the fact that the reunion between the lovers happens some 70-100 years in the future (or so I deduce), and much as I want to write reunion fic, I am not a futurist! They must (mustn't they?) use something other than mobile phones to communicate, right? And are there still professions such as a radio producer 70 years from now? Will there still be two Koreas? Was there civil war (again)? What are high schools and universities of the future like? And I assume they have self-driving cars or some other mode of transport, right? And how did climate change affect weather patterns? (Somewhat important as the male protagonist has supernatural powers.) Certain things, I can fudge away because I don't think family behaviour and cultures/traditions would change out of recognition. But the rest of it? Writing is hard.

5) Also, obssessed with the soundtrack to Beautiful Mind (K-drama, not the Hollywood movie).
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
天增岁月人增寿,春满乾坤福满门。

To everyone who celebrates it, HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Grab the nearest book, flip to page 117, the second sentence is your life in 2017.

"They had carefully decorated the inside with holograms of grasslands, forests, and oceans; cultivated real gardens; and built fishing ponds and water fountains, turning the ship into a real home."

Death's End, by Liu Cixin, trans. Ken Liu, last installment of the Three-Body epic.

...okay? I'll be living in a make-believe place, it seems.

***

Job hunting continues. Today I did some teaching at a tutoring centre... tutoring a bunch of seven- and eight-year-olds, which is kind of amusing. Poor kids. Who actually wants to spend Saturday at a tutoring session?

***

k-drama

Goblin, aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God: I don't know why the network renamed the series (or gave it two names), maybe the awesomeness of Gong Yoo just could not be limited to one title, or something. Haha.

One thing that drew my attention before it aired was that the inspiration came from Korean folktales (with plenty of adaptation, of course) rather than western-derived tales. Then it aired, and I loved the myth-making that went into the plot, even if it combined that with the theme of reincarnation -- which I'm usually wary about. There are quite a few long, drawn-out scenes of characters brooding, which can feel overlong unless you're simply enjoying the eyecandy (the cute thing about k-dramas is that there is a lot of pretty). The cinematography is gorgeous.

Other than that, I'm enjoying it so much that for the first time in my life of watching k-dramas I wished I understood Korean so that I could get the nuance of what the characters are saying. Last night there was major character death so I'm a bit bummed by that, but the scene before that happened (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1hty9DtJSU) defines "whoa". Also, I think that sword is almost too big.
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Have been watching K-drama Love in the Moonlight aka Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (hilarious teaser here), which is more of a period idol drama wherein woman in disguise as man turns up in the palace as an enunch falls in love with meet-cute crown prince. There's some typical palace plotting, together with some expected she's-daughter-of-a-rebel! drama coming up. Which actually reminded me of Dong Yi. I'm really very curious about how it will end because the setting is based on actual history and the said crown prince in history... well. Died young.

***

Extracurricular Activities, Mei Changsu/Xiao Jingyan, modern-day AU, Nirvana in Fire, by Alaceron

***

On the personal front, work and job woes )
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Part of my local newspaper's Q&A on Zika:

Q: What can a pregnant woman do if she has Zika?

A: Her doctor will monitor the development of the baby. If it is confirmed to have a major defect, and it is within 24 weeks of conception, abortion is a choice.


That. Is. Well, they said what most people would be thinking, even if it was for a brief moment.

***

Dragons and Other Metaphors, Akira, Hikaru, Hikago, by esama

Fallen Stars, Hikaru, Sai, Hikago, by esama

***

That LJ?DW? meme I've been seeing )
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Didn't want to let the month go by without posting something, anything:

that 100 scifi-fantasy list that was about a few weeks back )

Busy with work, but that's not too surprising, I guess. It's been an eventful and annoyingly tiring day. I was at court and my hearing didn't go well (which was due to factors not under my control), damn it. But at least:

1) I was wearing my favourite earrings;
2) I caught six Pokémon.

You do what you can.

Things

Mar. 25th, 2016 09:01 pm
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
A list:

1) Is it just me or has March been a really long month (and is still not over)? I've been to the wake of a friend's mum, to prison (work-related), to court (both subordinate and high, also work-related), transferred to a different mail system, witnessed an eclipse (sorta), wrote fic, missed a tutoring session out sheer exhaustion, reacted (or not reacted) to news reports on terrorism and disasters, and replaced all the furniture in my room (I did not know I owned that many books). Not to mention AlphaGo v Lee Se-dol.

2) Speaking of Lee Se-dol (or as some websites have it, Lee Sedol), AlphaGo won the game by defying basic human instinct. That post is useful for people like me, whose strategic gaming skill only extends to tic-tac-toe. Kinda fun fodder for fic too, methinks.

3) Read The Bone Swans of Amandale, by C.S.E. Cooney, which was recced on Asking the Wrong Questions, mainly because the book cover reminded me of the last scene in Bridge of Birds. It is actually a re-telling of Pied Piper, and a rather good one. Enjoyed the narrator Maurice, fascinated by the Nicolas the piper and between being put off and impressed by Dora Rose. Nice touch with the three children. Wished there was more of the villain.

4) Read A Queer Trade by KJ Charles. I read her Magpie Lord series previously, didn't know there were new stories set in the same universe. The ML series was a little over the top, but gave me the feeling that a crossover with Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown would be great fun.

5) Speaking of period fiction (or not), here's an atypical introduction to the laws of Singapore (tho' this was taken from a case I was reading this week):

The island of Singapore was part of the territorial domain of the Johor Sultanate before 1824 when its sovereignty was ceded to the British. As a British possession, its inhabitants were subject to English principles of law. However, it was not until 1826 when the Second Charter of Justice (“the Second Charter”) introduced the entire corpus of English law (common law, equity and English statutes of general application) to Singapore so far as it was applicable to the circumstances of Singapore and its inhabitants and subject to such modifications as those circumstances might require (as the courts later held its effect to be such). The consequence of this development was that the general law was applicable to all except where the customs and personal laws of the inhabitants required that the general law be modified to suit their circumstances.

Yadda, yadda, you kinda see this general gist whatever case you're reading: criminal, civil, family, procedural rules, etc. With some modification it'd make a great period fantasy setting: colonial powers try their best, but they didn't count on what the natives had up their sleeves. Hehe.

things

Mar. 11th, 2016 12:39 am
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
1. Really, JKR? The magic school in Japan is called 'magic-place'? And their robes turn white when they do black magic? Someone should tell the Sumeragi clan.

2. And we're into the 18th round of Blind Go, in time for Japan's Children Day, or Hikago Day 5/5. I'm pimping it because I've signed up and want more people to write Hikago fic. ^_^

3. Alpha-Go v Lee Sedol. Lee lost the 2nd game too. We live in interesting times.
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
I finally managed to break the seventh string on my guqin while re-stringing it. Genius move, self. Genius. You and your unladylike strength. Don't have spares. On the other hand, this means I now have an excuse to buy silk strings for the whole qin, haha. Only it's now CNY and they don't deliver until well after Yuanxiao. I wait.

***

In the middle of [livejournal.com profile] ursulav's The Raven and the Reindeer under the pen name T. Kingfisher (book launch post here), a re-telling of Andersen's "The Snow Queen". I don't really like Amazon's description of this as a "sly retelling", which is the only thing I don't like about this book. Everything else is excellent. There's a solidness and maturity about the writing that is really satisfying to read. It's the first time I enjoyed reading about Gerta and adventures in snowland with raven and bandit girl friend, as it were. (Always got annoyed with Andersen when halfway through as there was no follow-up with the little robber girl.) This re-telling, though, is lovely.
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Thoughts on the new year:

I watched the recent Chinese animated version of Journey to the West, the first part where Monkey is freed from the mountain which was pretty good and I love the way they've rendered Sun Wukong. Though the music cues are kind of meh. I've always been secretly fond of Sun Wukong's character. A typical rendition of Sun Wukong: 大闹天宫 (I love this animated version). My fondness is sort of complicated by the fact that the Great Sage is also a religious figure in my culture. It's kind of hilariful when you find yourself at the temple... Anyway, pop media's varied interpretations about the Monkey King are just as fun: as a trickster figure, a protector, a rebel, a fighter, or as a greedy monkey who is looking out for number one.

Anyway, one of my favourite interpretations of Sun Wukong is from The Chinese Odyssey, part 1: Pandora's Box and part 2: A Cinderella story, a two-parter Stephen Chow movie from about 1994-5. At first viewing, though, it's hard to see through all the crack, jokes and sight gags - not to mention sexist and other -ist sins of Hong Kong cinema masquerading as jokes - the story of Sun Wukong, about love, truth and redemption. Most of the best interpretations about Sun Wukong occur before he goes on the journey with Sanzang, by the way: he's just obligated to be saintly (not merely good) by the end of the journey and really, with a damper of Sanzang, it's not fun anymore. The Chinese Odyssey has its faults (oh so many), complete with ending of someone (the Ox King) trying to send a piece of earth into the sun (now trite, but still rather exciting in those days when it first came out) and getting the smackdown for it. But it's still weirdly engrossing.

Maybe because behind all the wacky jokes, it still asks questions about what is love, what is reality, what is self-deception, and looks at the effects of greed and hatred, and then, it goes for the brutal conclusion that life is transient. Quite an interesting balancing act. It's not a Christian-like redemption, and the ending, well, is overall a bittersweet one. The monkey's journey is a journey for clarity of self and purpose. There are probably movies that do this better, and strike at those truths more intently. But there'll never one with Sanzang belting out a bastardised version of "Only You" (in Cantonese).

Anyway, the reason for all that rambling is this song 《一生所愛》. The theme song for the CO. It's damn good, and it's haunting. The title makes you think it's a love song, but the lyrics are about transcient joys and the impossibility of having again what has been lost. And that look on Wukong's face when he turns away from the happy couple... a lifetime of regrets.


**Speaking of Stephen Chow, one of my favourite scenes from the couplet-contest in The Flirting Scholar, scene 唐伯虎點秋香:吟詩作對, awesome when rendered in the original Cantonese. This was also the scene with the crack UST-inspired kiss.
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So this is a thing. Every year I promise myself to read more books, and also, bookblog. It doesn't quite happen that way, so this is probably the first and only bookblog for the year until next year when new year resolutions re-strike.

Between You and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Read more... )

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Read more... )

The Vorrh, by B. Catling. Read more... )

The Dark Forest, by Liu Cixin, trans Joel Martinsen. Read more... )

***

As I'd gone back to teaching English while applying to full-time jobs, I was commiserating with a fellow teacher on students. The school I teach at is for Japanese expats, btw.

ME: So, in the first lesson, I often ask things like what's your job, where's your hometown... What I find most wtf about them is that they'd look at you with their big, earnest eyes, and say something like, "My hometown is Kyoto. Have you heard of Kyoto?" *rants* Why wouldn't I have heard of Kyoto? It's only the second most well-known city in Japan. It's a major tourist attraction. It's the atypical Japanese cultural billboard. It's got temples and geishas, just to give a couple of the most stereotypical things that people know of Japan.

FRIEND: I know, right?

ME: *continues ranting* If it's a really obscure place, yeah, I freely admit my ignorance. But you're telling me you come from Hokkaido or Nagano, or Nagasaki and you ask me whether I've heard of these places?

FRIEND: I've never heard of Nagasaki.

ME: *extremely non-plussed* What? But... but it got atomic bombed!

FRIEND: I thought it was only Hiroshima.

ME: No, they got (atomic) bombed in two places, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

FRIEND: Never heard of that.

So this became a story where I complain about my students' insularity and end up finding something even weirder. This is supposed to be common knowledge, right? I mean, even if you knew nothing about Japan, you'd know that USA dropped two atomic bombs on Japan during WW2, right? Sure, it happened like 70 years ago, but still...

more rambling )
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Monkey King Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho.

***

It's been an unsettling week.

Celebrity-wise, the deaths of David Bowie and then Alan Rickman. Especially Alan Rickman. There I was, watching Sense and Sensibility for Emma Thompson and trying not to be too ticked off at Marianne for whining when all of a sudden Colonel Brandon came on the scene and whoa, couldn't take my eyes off him. Then I was ticked off at Marianne for an entirely different reason. One of the most visceral reactions I've ever had to a movie character. Lovely to see him as Snape - one of the main reasons to catch the Harry Potter movies, really.

It's too soon. Dammit.

And then not on the same scale of tragedy but adding to one's bewilderment at the insanity in the world, terrorists in Jakarta.

Lastly, the expected-but-nice-to-have: Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan's first female president

I'm starting to look upon 2016 with extreme suspicion.
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Yuletide reveals:

Much thanks to psiten, who wrote Midnight Song, Seishiro/Subaru, Tokyo Babylon/X. It's a lovely fic and I'm delighted!

Mentioned below, but worth mentioning again: Magnet and Steel, Tokyo Crazy Paradise, which was by [personal profile] tielan. I love your TCP fics, and thank you again. ^____^

I wrote A Gentleman's Venture, a Sorcerer to the Crown fic, which started off okay, but I didn't give a longer follow-up, for which I feel apologetic. I definitely need more of the universe before I can write more.

Other:

Once Upon a Christmas, part 1/2, Avengers/Iron Man, WIP, by scifigrl47

***

Happy New Year, everyone! Best wishes and good health to all. Year in brief )
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
RL: Have been at new job for a bit more than a month now. Not as bewildering now, though still many things to learn/re-learn/un-learn, trying to inculcate new work habits (time costs are a thing...) and quite a bit of internal eye-rolling at clients. Long hours but that's the price of being in a new job...

***

Lilies of the Field, Cordelia Naismith, Vorkosigan series, by Raven (singlecrow)

Small Town, Simon Illyan, Hawkeye Pierce, Vorkosigan series/MASH, by Raven (singlecrow)

Winterfair Conspiracies, AU, Ekaterin, Miles, Vorkosigan series, by avanti_90

The Soldier And The Hurricane, Howard Stark, Tony Stark, James "Bucky" Barnes, Jarvis, AU, Iron Man/Avengers, by copperbadge
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
Sins of the Fathers, Scorpius/Albus, HP, by blamebrampton, and the sequel, Fathers Who Could Do With A Spot of Sinning, Harry/Draco.

***

I read Cold Days by Jim Butcher and it was not awful. Either that or enough time away from reading his books have lowered my expectations enough to make it easier to bear with Harry Dresden's brand of describing women who were not for him, by gosh look at that body!, but no thanks, m'am, you're too sexy/scary/innocent. spoiler? I think? )

***

I went to donate blood today and it was a success! Well, I'm perhaps more gleeful than I should be, because it's the first time in years that my iron levels were high enough for me to do so. Though that was due to the iron supplements the staff gave me. Oh well. I should make it a regular thing; program the next appointment into my phone or something.

CNY, LNY

Feb. 19th, 2015 08:39 am
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
夜来风雨声,花落知多少。

That sounds a little melancholy, but was what happened last night. After an uncharacteristically warm evening, torrential rain fell in the middle of the night, loud enough to wake me up.

So, that was the start of Lunar New Year. Happy New Year! It's the Year of the Goat (or sheep, depending), so here's wishing that everyone be happy, healthy and 羊 ('yang') at heart. :)
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
(This post is probably not going to make much sense, but I really wanted to vent.)

Does anyone know how far you can tighten a guqin string before it snaps?

The problem is that annoying seventh string. It was always too tight and I can tell you, it makes playing that string really painful, not to mention that you needed extra effort just for it. I started playing (well, practising really) again yesterday after a long hiatus and I needed the seventh string to reach an A on the 9th 'hui' (harmonics, not pressed sounds) and it. Would. Not. It was/is a whole note off. So, to tune it, I need to tighten it more. But it's already damn tight! I'm worried about breaking the string. On the one hand, made of nylon-reinforced steel and not easy to break. (Well, there's the unlikely event that I end up breaking my guqin instead.) On the other hand, the seventh string is the thinnest string and could conceivably break.

Another alternative is restringing it. I don't really want to because it'd probably mean restringing three other strings. Or a quick and dirty solution is to wedge some kind of object (toothpick?) to tighten it, but it's not elegant and could cause damage.

I'm also thinking that if the damn thing really snaps, I'll have to get a new one. Probably from my old teacher. Or I could buy new strings online, even though it takes time. On the other hand this could mean I could buy actual silk strings and restring the whole qin and achieve whatever passes for authentic qin these days. Hm*. (Silk strings, though, are way expensive. $50-$200 for a set of seven strings?** May I should just go with steel ones. Very industrial-agey.)

In other news, I've not bothered to watch the new Wu Zetian series but I came across this amusing post: Wu Zetian whips her hair around : a glimpse at Tang dynasty hairstyles Now I totally regret chopping half my hair off, because I bet I could've done some of those, heheh.***

*Also, if I had money to throw around I'd get tassels in a much nicer shade than my current grey set.

**And OMG they have silk strings for erhu!

***Though my guess is that they used lots of fake hairpieces to get that kind of look. And at least three assistants.
issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
In a fit of madness I hit upon the idea of wanting to buy more hair sticks and stumbled (not so accidentally - I heard the prices were low) upon wooden ones. It's at Taobao. Not sure if the links will work, but if they do the pictures... I assure you I'm boggled and tempted. I also did not know that there were such things as porcelain hair sticks but they are pretty, and then I saw these ones made of wooden shavings which are also very, very pretty, and I want to buy a bunch and stick them in vases.

Speaking of flowers: Passion fruit, pomegranate and honeysuckle flavoured tea. I don't often go in for flavoured teas, but it was on sale. And it's sweet. I mean, it's sweet-smelling, but I drink it without sugar and I'm thinking, "Ooh, tastes sweet". When it's only the flavourings giving me that impression. Interesting effect.

***

Sorry Doesn't Always Make Things Right, Laura/Sorry, The Changeover, by Aishuu.

There is just not enough Changeover fic in the world. Maybe it's because Margaret Mahy portrayed Laura and Sorry's story so well that people feel reluctant to intrude? I feel a bit of that. But I still want fic. ^_^

ETA: Keep the Car Running, up to chapter 7, WIP, Inception/Sherlock crossover by [livejournal.com profile] earlgreytea68.

***

Current most hated word: susurration (and my god! I spelt it right on the first try! Go me! Too bad I have no use for this word myself.) I've seen it twice now (at least) in Nukume Dori, a Tokyo Babylon/X/1999, Subaru/Seishirou fic. I enjoy the fic, but this word just doesn't feel right to me in the instances when it has been used. Maybe it's too abstract? I've seen it to describe the rustling sound of bedclothes, but the word always jerks me out of the narrative.

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