Saturday, November 17, 2007

'Dark City 2' promises a disturbing read

Dark City 2, published by Midnight Press of Venton Publishing, is a spicy anthology of short stories by writers ranging from well-known ones such as Xeus, Tunku Halim, Lydia Teh and John Ling to emerging ones such as Jennifer Wan, Chua Kok Yee and Bissme S.

You can buy the book from the MPH megastore at Mid-Valley, Kuala Lumpur, and Kinokuniya, according to bloggers residing in Kuala Lumpur.

My story in it is named "Till Death". It's about a couple who is harbouring thoughts of murdering each other, but just who kills whom in the end?

As advised by Xeus, I'm posting an SMS review sent to me by a newspaper editor:

"Just read 'Till Death' and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Ally McBeal meets Norman Bates. A true black comedy on one level; an exploration of parental poisoning; a look at how murderous fantasies are translated into reality."

I would like to thank Xeus and Venton Publishing for letting me edit DC2 for grammar, just as they had engaged me to edit the original Dark City, an anthology of stories all penned by Xeus.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Farewell to Fall

Good-bye, Autumn! You leave us golden, you made them fall;
you gave a melancholic feeling to us all.

You whispered through the shimmery leaves
of the wiry, pale-faced birch.
You gracefully bowed to winter
in a time-honoured search

(for where in the cosmos do you go in the meantime?)

And you tip-toed away in a veil of
delicate lace of leaves.

How you have gifted us with cool balls of fiery rustling!


Now that I've gotten that off my chest - waxing a tad lyrical on a cold afternoon at the onset of winter...

Here's a moist carrot cake recipe I've adapted from a Canadian one (you can replace carrot with zucchini for something different and green-flecked!):

1/2 cup sunflower oil or melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt

1 cup grated carrot (or zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 raisins (optional)
3 tbs dessicated grated coconut

Mix together the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the egg mixture. Finally add the last 4 ingredients. (Top with pieces of white chocolate if you want an extra treat for flavour!)
Scoop into a longish cake pan (approx. 4"x9", 3" high) lined with baking paper.
Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees C. Slow bake for 45-55 minutes for a moist cake.

For the truly sweet-toothed, make a cream cheese topping:
50g softened butter
120g cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
vanilla flavouring

Whip it all together till smooth and well-blended. Spread on top of cooled cake.

Zucchini cake (above) naturally looks less orangey than carrot cake.

(Above) One of Small Duck's male relatives or mate (front). I found out they are Tafelente, or Table Ducks in German (!), Common Pochard in English. Behind him is a nasty-looking Eurasian Coot.

Greylag geese came again to the Cham lake park for a few days on their way south. Behind the two are lake gulls.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shorter Days Call for Sweet and Sour Pickles

Winter is upon us in Switzerland. The cloudy or rainy days are between 3 and 8 degrees Celsius here, whereas in the north-west of Italy by the Mediterranean, where I was for 3 days last weekend, it was sunny and warm (up to 22 degrees).

The water level at Zugerlake is noticeably lower now - compared to summer when it was flooded for a week (see pic below).

One tries not to let the cloudy days affect one's mood. It's not encouraging to see the sun set by five o'clock - when it had hardly made a showing during the short day. Sadly, Daylight Savings Time is a thing of the past.

If you are centred in yourself, and feel happy and content wherever you are in the world, you will not be affected so much by your surroundings.

I have at least one thing to look forward to: the book 'Dark City 2' is scheduled to be arriving in my letter box soon from Xeus. Yes, I have a story published in it - yay!

To tickle your tastebuds, here is a simple recipe for you to try:

Cucumber Carrot Pickle

1 medium-size cucumber
1 medium-size carrot
1 red chilli
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tbs vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
4 tbs sugar

Wash and dry the cucumber and carrot. Remove the soft centre of the cucumber; slice the rest into 2mm-thin pieces. Slice the carrot thinly with a potato peeler. Deseed the chilli and slice it as small as possible. Put all ingredients into a clean, dry jar and mix with dry chopsticks. After several hours, mix again. Keep jar in refrigerator. The pickle is ready the next day.


My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)