Sunday, December 07, 2014

Daria's Rantings - Urukhai & Grinah

*I am posting this seventh ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

You must ask, why such hatred for putrid characters? You know, I actually think the Nazguls were kindda cool on their horses and winged dragons. Nagzul were once men, great kings of men who were blinded by their greed and fell into darkness. Poor chaps.

BUT, the worst kind of villains of our Lord of Ring world must be the Urukhai and Grinah. Their faces (and characters) were so hideous that I put their Lego versions here instead.

More stories to come... Tolkien, you inspire me!

Daria's Rantings - Mogwai

 *I am posting this sixth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

Do you remember Mogwai? No, not the Scottish post-rock band but the cute, furry creature in the film 'Gremlins' starring the lovely Phoebe Cates? In the film, the owner of Mogwai must:
1. never expose it to bright light (especially sunlight, which will kill it)
2. never get it wet
3. most importantly, no matter how much it cries or begs, never, ever feed it after midnight
... lest Mogwai would hatch into "gremlins" or more mischievous reptilian monsters. Quel horreur!
Oh how I was deceived by a sweet and innocent-looking Mogwai. At the request of her parents, I helped the soft-spoken, gentle, doe-eyed Mogwai. I even braved the thunderstorm and flash flood to meet the young Mogwai to render assistance. I was genuinely concerned about her situation. I even asked another friend to help her. All these despite Mogwai's father didn't help me when I asked him for help the year before.

I heard nothing from Mogwai, though we had on occasions communicated via email. I thought Mogwai would at least update me. Many moons later, I heard (from other people) that Mogwai had emerged victorious. Though Mogwai didn't thank me personally for whatever little advice I had given her, I was really happy for her good fortune.

Some time had passed... I met Mogwai at an event held by an organisation that I helped set up. Someone introduced me to Mogwai (who was working at the organisation) who to my surprise, acted as if that was the first time she had met or heard of me. 
Staff: Is that your first time meeting Mogwai? When we spoke about you, she didn't seem to know you...
Me: What?!

I am no Phoebe Cates but at least I bother to appreciate the people who had helped me during my times of need. Mogwai, didn't your parents teach you any manners?
I recently found out that Mogwai means "evil spirit" or "devil" in Cantonese. I wonder, just how many cute Mogwai(s), which would change into nasty Gremlins especially when they are thrusted into the limelight or fed (with praises), are there in this world?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Daria's Rantings - Pigs in Space

*I am posting this fifth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

I love watching The Muppet Show! The Muppets come in all shapes, sizes and colours; they have unique, identifiable characters. In fact, I think they mirror human beings. One of the sketches is 'Pigs in Space' featuring the exploits of Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy and Dr. Julius Strangepork leading a crew of pigs aboard the Swinetrek. 

Piggy: Oh, that Daria, that that....arggghhh... 'Individual'! She even threatened to sue us!
Dr Julius: Well, she would be right to do that. You did infringe her work.
Piggy: Shut Up! Why are you defending her?
Cpt Link: My dear Piggy is right. Daria is such a nuisance. Always fighting us. She thinks just because she is a Scholar, she is so damn smart.
Piggy: Yes, that's right, darling Link. I heard she didn't even graduate from Cambridge. Puff!
Dr Julius: I think it's good that she stands up for her rights and her family. It's almost admirable... How many people have her guts and deep love for her family?
Piggy: (red in the face) Dr Julius, before I kick you out to the Black Hole, you better stop your useless rantings! Maybe you have a crush on her... Argghhh...
Cpt Link: Daria is just jealous of our success. We are exploring into space, new frontiers while she is still stuck on earth. Oink. Oink.
Dr Julius: Well, you did destroy her spaceship... But, I heard she bounced back and her new X-Wing Fighter was shortlisted for having the best hypersonic speed V8 engine design! Perhaps we should engage her?
Piggy: Over my dead, fat body! We should continue slandering her and convincing Prime Minister Kermit that she is part of the rebellion to control the earth.
Cpt Link: Excellent idea my beloved Piggy! We must bombard her spaceship with ammunition and missiles. We must make up stories of her bad character, boycott her corporation, and spread malicious rumours about her. She thinks she is Katniss? Petui!
Dr Julius: But... but... that's cruel!
Piggy: And we have only just begun... hahahaha (*evil laughter)

By George Orwell, there have been, are, and always will be pigs in every society. Don't blame me for hating those pigs. Even the Angry Birds want to destroy them.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Daria's Rantings - Diana V

*I am posting this fourth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

Oh Diana! Where do I even start? I don't think you are as "sadistic, ruthless and brilliant" as the real Diana of V (remember that TV series?). But then, why would your fleet members abandon you? Oh, were they inferior to the genetically-blessed you? So you used your beauty to charm people into doing what you want them to do. But why poke into other people's affairs? We don't even bother with your own indiscreet affairs.

Diana: Why is Daria so upset? It is just a Mango Tree. Unlike my ordeal fighting the Resistance... that was more traumatising! 

Diana: I had achieved many important things even when I was 18. I studied overseas... and my book is best-selling! All XXXX copies were snapped up! People love what I wrote.
Me: Ok...
Diana: Did you know my ancestors did many great things for this country. If it wasn't for my ancestors, you would still be bottomless.
Me: What? I saw my ancestors' photos in the late 1800s and they were not bottomless! Where did you get this information?
Diana: It was written in books in the library.
Me: Really? I will check.
Diana: I also did many things for the underprivileged. I must have gotten this charitable streak from my ancestors who rescued many poor souls from the streets. What did your ancestors and you do, Daria?

I was left speechless. Well, short Diana (who uses 5 inches heels), at least I don't dress like some karaoke singer from Sin Po Po Bar when I attend posh events like you always do.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Daria's Rantings - Awesome threesome

*I am posting this third ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

They say threesome are awesome. Really? The threesome I had unfortunately encountered are far from awesome - Jabba the Hutt, Asajj Ventress & Nute Gunray.
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", there lived...
... Asajj Ventress who enjoyed deadly rivalry with her friends. She was blessed with 'beauty' (if you're into that kind of look) and some fame that flamed her mean streak. She was a mere acquaintance whom I didn't particularly want to keep in touch with. At a sudden encounter at the entrance of Borders:

Asajj: Hey, how are you? What are doing now?
Me: I'm fine, thanks. I'm... (telling her my post 'A' level plans)
Asajj: Did you actually pass your 'A' level?
Me: No, I just slept with the examiner. 

Nute Gunray wasn't always opportunistic, scheming and greedy. In fact, for a short period, we hung out as good pals. Some thought that we were dating (Heaven forbid!) since we were always going in the same circles and stayed in the same continent at some point. Some found Nute (pronounced as Nude) cute. Look, I wasn't too shabby looking myself. But few people knew I was interested in Luke Skywalker. It was Nute and me, they gossiped.

Nute: Hmm... how did you get the Fulbright Scholarship? Maybe the scholarship is not that prestigious after all...
Me: What! 
Jabba the Hutt. He looked quite harmless (see adorable photo), right? I didn't even know who he was. Apparently, he was rising up the Galaxy's ranks. People spoke highly of him. He was "our hope", they extolled. Sure he had packed in a few kilograms of fat but what successful and prosperous creature wouldn't? Have you ever seen a thin Mafia boss? He was no Mafia but harboured a dark secret that even my sixth sense couldn't pick up. I guessed his pheromones deceived me (and many others) into believing that he was actually a Jedi.

Jabba: I could have gotten into Oxford to study Medicine. But we couldn't afford it.
Me: Aww... (genuinely impressed). That's a shame. But you're doing very well now.
Jabba: I can't complain.

Then, these threesome conspired against me...

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Daria's Rantings - Tweedle-Dee & Tweedle-Smart

*I am posting this second ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

Let's call the second pair Tweedle-Dee (TD) and Tweedle-Smart (TS) as opposed to Dum since TS is actually very smart. In fact, both of them are highly intelligent that they could almost be the Wonder Twins (though they don't look alike).

TD and TS pride themselves as having "a different pedigree" than my mortal self. TD once insulted me by saying, "I don't think you'll match up to the Cambridge folks". Instead of encouraging me, he kept putting me down and even put my Gedung Kuning book on trial as if it was on the PhD viva!

TS once shouted at me in a public seminar, accusing me of some facts which he said I distorted. When I tried to explain, TS shut me off and rattled some academic-sounding facts. And the audience went silent, either in shock or out of respect for the organiser. Although brimming with anger, I just kept my cool. No need to stoop to TS' level. 

Lo and behold, TS also shouted at a very respected, learned scholar in a discourse which I attended. Oh my God! What's with this twins? Respect begets respect. Just because you are well-educated (puff, they are not even Ivy-League educated, yet they behaved with such superiority and entitlement), doesn't mean you can put others down or demean others.

I bet if their alma maters were to know this, they would shy away from embarrassment. And if TD and TS have Malay mothers, they would be scolded for being "biadap" (rude and crass). And the minah Daria would challenge them, "Kau ada?" (You have?). No books to your name (and you're a scholar?), yet you insult authors who have written good books. Podah!

Ooi TD and TS, there are so many scholars / authors / Nobel Laureates / politicians / diplomats whom I've met who are so humble that they put me to shame. Get over yourselves!

Daria's Rantings - Elvira

*I am posting this first ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

What's wrong with some so-called smart people? Let's call the first one Elvira (EL)
EL skyped me for the first time on the pretence of asking me how I was doing.
EL: ...your Gedung Kuning book is not good. Even my friends said it's not academic enough...
Me: Oh, it's not meant for the academic audience. It's for everyone to enjoy.
EL: Still, it lacks the academic component.
Me: What do you mean? Just because it's deliberately written simply, doesn't mean it lacks academic references. And who are your friends who said this?
EL: I can't tell you but they have published MANY academic papers.
Me: Really? They said this? And you? Have you read my book?
EL: No, I haven't. I have other important books to read like Foucault and Bourdieu... Have you read their books?
Me: No, I haven't. Maybe I am stupid.

I hung up feeling appalled. Oh my God! You called me just to criticise me? I can accept criticisms about my work but how can you criticise the book that you haven't read? 

Oh EL, ugliness is forgivable but meanness is not. You may drop big names and great university affiliations. But no one is impressed if you're mean and like to belittle others. By the way, no amount of make-up can hide ugliness. You're no Pocahontas.

ps. Even if you look this hot a Pocahontas, you would still be 'ugly' in my eyes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) 2014

I was busy preparing for my Malay Culture book launch when I received an email from the Book Council stating that The Mango Tree book has been shortlisted for the prestigious Singapore Literature Prize (English, non-fiction category). OMG. Really?

The other categories were announced 6 weeks earlier; the judges for the English, non-fiction category resigned earlier in protest of the National Library's 'pulping' of the 3 children's book with perceived 'homosexual' themes. Hence, the delay as the Book Council had to get replacement judges.

To be shortlisted is already an honour. After all, The Mango Tree (a children's picture book) is the first book published by my independent publishing company Helang Books (Gedung Kuning book was co-published by Helang Books and the Singapore Heritage Society). 

Will David (Helang Books) triumph over Goliath (EDM, Ethos, Marshall Cavendish, World Scientific Publishing Company)?

This little achievement is a big step for independent publishers and the underdogs. Yes, we can compete with the big players. We may not have the financial resources and network but we have lots of passion and drive to publish high quality books.

Stay tuned on 4th November for the results!

Monday, October 27, 2014

My third book launch

Oh, what a lovely, cosy and posh affair at the National Museum last Saturday, 18th October! A true display of the spirit of gotong-royong and rewang!

Alahai Amy Cheong... Malay weddings don't cost $50 lah, they are priceless!

*Photos are available for viewing on Facebook.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

K is for Kaduk

Human beings are such funny creatures. One day, they are begging you to help them. The next day, they discard you once they have achieved their goals (with your help no doubt). Then another day, they maliciously slander you as they perceived you to be stealing their limelight. Amazing!

A series of events had left me utterly disappointed in such creatures, especially one whose name is K. From an unknown, K knew many people who helped her because of my network. K became popular. People praised K for her work. Then I suggested another brilliant project (the first project went very well, many people knew about our mission). K said, "Let's do it." So I wrote the concept paper and proposal for funding. Then K said, "You should head this" (which I did) and worked on it with B and E. When I suggested an alternative person to take over E as E said she couldn't do her tasks, K burst in a rage and insisted that there was a conflict of interest blah, blah, blah. How could this be when I did the project (and the first one) for her free? So, I let her be. I mean, why fight with people who are insane, right? And the others just cowered under her madness. No one dared to speak up against the malicious treatment because she insisted, "I've already apologised to her. See, I'm nice" and "Don't blame me. I have transference issues, she reminded me of my secondary school prefect whom I hated."

Recently, I saw her name splashed on the very project whose idea and initial groundwork came from me. Praises flowed in. You are superb, K! What a wonderful project! Yet, there is no mention of me. All K said, "I can't work with her. But we can still be friends." No, K. We are NOT friends anymore.

My late grandmother once advised me to stay away from such dishonourable creatures. And this I will. But not without penning my thoughts in a short story (The Story of K) and haiku (The Madness of K). Let's not forget the Malay proverb, "As clever as the squirrel hops, it will one day fall to the ground."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Madness of K

*This is the continuation of 'The Story of K'; my first attempt at writing haiku*

K finally returned home
Empty nest, just despise, sad her
Hate that mop of hair

New friends, nice friends

Life smells sweet like BREEZE
Fly with me, Elise!

My sister, guide me please

Does this path lead to greatness?
Acceptance, friends, I neither have.

Talented you are Elise

Conquer the world, we both can
K, help you I promise. 

Poor K, awkward maybe

Heart of gold, yet misunderstood
Blind is the world today.

Famous K, now in news
The frog no longer hides beneath
Throw away that coconut shell

I can't work with you!

Elise, Rose, Holly, we are still friends
The limelight I won't share

Malicious YOU, not me
See, I have new, wonderful friends
Listen to me they do.

K is for Kaduk 
Once creeping wildly on the forest's bed
Now celebrated over bride's head


I am K, not Kaduk
Sick you are, not me!

The Madness of K

Narcissistic, Megalomanic, P.D. we are, not you
The President is always right.

Hah! Jealousy I detect

God is neither blind nor deaf, K
Justice always prevails, though late.

*Haiku is a Japanese poetry form that consist of 17 or 21 words, in three phrases of 5, 7, 5 or 7, 9, 7 syllables
+P.D. = Personality Disorder

Malay Weddings Don't Cost $50

14 more days to my third book launch! Excited much?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Story of K

Once upon a time, there lived a girl called K. K was neither beautiful nor ugly. She wore her hair short, like a mop on her head. Though tall, K did not stand out from her peers. Sure, she was smart, but she carried this surly look of discontent on her face which made her friends wonder if she ever had an unpleasant childhood. 

K always felt envious of her friends, especially Lin the class Geography representative. To K, it was not fair that Lin was pretty, rich and popular. Lin was too perfect in K's eyes. Many people loved Lin as she was nice and humble too. Being friends with Lin made K resent her family even more. No one in the class knew that K's father was an abusive tailor and that her mother mistreated the kids at home. 

All K's insecurities were well hidden. Just like the witch's cloak K wore for the class' Halloween party. All K had to do was to be the top student, be the fastest runner in school; basically be the best so that no one would look down on her. In reality, no one ever did. But K constantly thought otherwise.

Luck had been kind to K. Despite her financial circumstances, K managed to graduate and become a doctor. K felt that she had been vindicated. She had proven to everyone that she was not useless. All the nurses listened to her. Her patients all loved her. 

"I got the best job in the world!" K said. 

While working in a clinic in Papua New Guinea, K met a Elise, a social worker. Elise was on a Raleigh expedition and dropped in at the clinic where K worked. A friendship began, one which Elise later regretted.

... to be continued ...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Writers with Heart

Mais les yeux sont aveugles. Il faut chercher avec le cœur. 
But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.
                    - The Little Prince                                                  

The Mango Tree book is now in Braille!

As writers who aim to produce quality local literature with strong Singapore flavour, Seow Ser and Hidayah also wish at the same time, to promote Singapore as a socially inclusive society. To promote reading in kids, we strongly believe we should include all kids - whether sighted or not. 

We have donated complimentary copies to Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) and Lighthouse School (for blind kids). If you know of any visually impaired friends, relatives or co-workers who may be interested to purchase a copy of The Mango Tree (Braille volume), or you simply wish to show support for our ‘Writing with a Heart’ initiative, please contact us. All proceeds go only as far as defraying production costs (at below break-even amount) of the Braille books.