Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enough Holidays already!

Let's see here, it has been.... 4 days since my last update. Yikes. But, I have a good excuse. I've spent... just a minute... Monday to Wednesday on a vacation on Pangkor Islands. Today is Thursday, and we got back yesterday evening. And when I say we, believe me when I say it was a really big WE.

... That... doesn't sound quite right. Anyway, what I mean is, you know how everyone always gathers at Grandma's house for a great big family reunion during Christmas? Well, in my case Grandma's house would be my house, since Grandma lives with our family. Oh yes, it happens every year - 14 grandchildren and 9 adults gather in our humble abode for Christmas. Of course, there were already 8 children and 5 adults to begin with; its a rather large house for a humble abode. Anyway, the point is that a great and many of us come together at the end of the holidays for Christmas, and then leave in time to get back to school.

But this year we had a twist. A never before heard of addition to the yearly tradition.

Of course, by no means is it now part of the tradition. Its more of a blue moon thing.

25th was Christmas day. Well and good. Opening of presents, visiting of aunties, and all that kind of stuff. Well and good. But then the NEXT day, Monday, was hectic. Wake up bright and early, at 9 o'clock (What kind of hour do you call that?) and then push off for the Great Pangkor Islands. Only 21 of us went, but that's still big enough a number to grind iron nails on the inside of my introvertial personality. But, family matters, and I toughed it out. Did you know I was isolated from the internet the whole time? All I had for entertainment was two books, and one laptop with no broadband and only DotA to play.

Well, during that time I managed to conclude The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and got started on Moby Dick, the author of which I will be able to name after looking at the cover some couple dozen more times when reading the book.

Long story short, I'm still recovering from the massive venture to the Pangkor Islands, which is why my update is so short today. Really. I might go more in-depth next time.


Here are some pictures I took witm my handphone! On the below occassion, the hornbills flocked for feeding time at the Pangkor Beach Resort, at six-o-clock, on the mark.

These birds all look alike. Seriously, its almost as bad as

I took a close up picture of a single hornbill, because I felt
that I was supposed too.

I was endeavouring to take a shot of several hornbills in one
picture, but then this bird in the middle must have thought
I was trying to take a picture of the tree, and very
politely stepped out of the way. Ironically,
this completely ruined the shot.

And this picture shows what a hornbill looks like when
it's eating!

I took a picture of this because it seemed strange. On the
edge of the beach, right next to where the hornbills were
feeding, this group of sparrows, or "generic tiny
timid birds", as I call them, were wiggling about in the sand,
creating little indentations into which they fit quite snugly.
I never bothered trying to come up with an
explanation for this.

On hindsight I had my handphone-camera with me the whole time and I should have taken a few more pictures other than birds with flashy hairdos, but meh.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can you believe I almost forgot to make a Christmas post? Yeah, unbelievable, I know. Any respectable webpage owner knows that you've GOT to have a Christmas Special. Duh! So, anyway, here we go.


...What's that? Were you expecting something more? Well too bad.

For a while I had contemplated photoshopping a Santa Hat onto a moose and posting it here, but decided against it, because a) Santa can go stick his head down a duck's pond and b) it's Christmas and dagnabit if I'm going to do anything productive today. Indeed, I spent the afternoon reading a comic book, having a late lunch and then I napped until dinner.

Of course, the morning was a different story. Maybe I'll tell you about it someday.

I guess its too late to say Happy Holidays, since they're almost over now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Objection! Carols should be Jovial!

You really mustn't pay attention to any of my rantings. Everything I complained about the other day? Kindly dismiss it as senseless hot gas. Today I'm typing with a clear mind brought about by a good night's sleep.

It is the day after my second caroling session, and you know what, it went a lot better the second time around. And I'm not just saying that because of the smiles of the sopranos (although that might have played a big part), but I'm really catching up to these duties. I do reckon my right arm has been strengthened by all the conducting, and I hardly felt tired out after last night's caroling. The time frames were very similar to the first; started at five-ish, ended at midnight-ish.

The other night's rant post was mostly a result of myself being mad at my own inexperience. I guess. But the second time round, I checked myself with the senior conductor, who took the first carols. Learning by examples and from my own mistakes, I was able to refine my ability to communicate with the rest of the group. For example, one ought to hold up one's hand to gain the attention of the rabble of carolers before oneself, before promptly conveying whatever message needs to be conveyed via hand signals. This, among other such trifles, made Conducting a snap.

I apologize for having scandalized any of my carolers in my last post. The truth is that they're good people at heart, every last one of them, yes, even those boys goofing of at the back who got the whole verse wrong in one of the songs. I'm sure they didn't mean it, and they were very apologetic about it afterwards, and everyone got a good laugh from it. If anyone's to blame, of course its me, yes?

So. That was two nights in a row - yes, full nights too - that we went caroling. Now, we rest for one day, and then tomorrow, we hop back in with a few grand performances - two hotels, with church member's house in between. This is no easy matter, you know, are the two hotels.
Sadly, due to what I am inclined to refer to as "family matters", I'll be missing out on the most part of the first hotel. My space will be filled in by the senior conductor, which is probably for the best.
We also aren't being optimistic about the number of carolers who will show up on that day. It's Christmas Eve, after all. We've encouraged them not to show up if it gets in the way of them spending time with their families, because after all, family matters.

I feel much happier today. Remind me never again to blog past my bedtime.


We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I have received one response to my new poll, and it says that I shouldn't stop ictalicizing the text everytime I write a story. Fight back, people!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Carol

Well now. Tonight has been interesting.

Where shall I begin? I'll start where I left off on my last post. The caroling group from my church, which consists strictly of youths (of course its traditional that young people go caroling house to house. If the adults caroled too, there would be no one left to listen), and I, had the honor of being the Conductor.

The conductor's job is easy. But then again, its difficult.

Today, or rather tonight, began our first of three excursions of Christmas Caroling. At Five-Fifteen p.m., carolers assemble at church. After a short warm up, and prayer for journey mercies, we shove off for our first destination. Another tradition in caroling is that we always visit the Old Folk's Homes first.
But I'm not going to bother about details pertaining where we sang and what we sang, the main reason because it wasn't my singing that I was concerned with, but everyone else's, i.e., I was conducting.

What is the first job on a Conductor's list? Well, he has a list of 22 carols in front of him. He chooses which one we'll sing at which house. Next, at the house concerned, the Conductor starts off the Guitarist by signaling him to begin the song. Then, the conductor counts down for the singers, and with a wave of his hands, "flags" them off, as it were. He also mouths the words to keep everyone in time, and smiles all times to remind everyone else to do the same, and he has to make sure the tenors don't drown out the sopranos, which is done, of course, by waving his hands.

In short, the conductor gets the song started, then waves his arms a lot until the song ends.

The smiling part is a bit of a bother, because the carolers' group is facing the audience, and I of course am facing the carolers, which means I have my back to the most part of the audience. But I have to make sure the carolers smile at the audience, which is the important thing, and the accepted signal is to smile at them and hope they take the hint. Unfortunately sometimes they don't. Its vaguely distressing when the shy soprano singer in the very front row just won't crack a smile no matter how much you smile at her.

So, as I mentioned, we began caroling at five-fifteen, and we ended all but one hour ago. We ended at twelve-twenty. It is now one-o-clock in the morning. And fifteen minutes. I'm too drowsy to do the math, but just you calculate how much time I spent waving my arms around tonight. My right shoulder wouldn't have been able to take much more of it.

Of course, the way I explain conducting, it sounds easy. But that's because I'm not good at explaining much. What have I left out in my explanation that reflects the true labor involved in conducting? Perhaps its the way no one picks up your frantic gestures to speed up/slow down/sing louder/sing softer. Or perhaps its the way you have to widely extravagate your actions to make sure everyone sees it, even those rapscallions at the back who aren't focusing on the song, oh yes, they matter too. Then again, perhaps its the way the responsibility of making sure everything goes smoothly, oh yes, that responsibility is almost completely on your shoulders.

Now I think I've made it sound a lot worse than it is. The main thing is that Conducting is physically taxing. Anyway, it's one-o-clock in the morning, and I'm bushed out of my mind, and no one had better wake me up before ten.


Yeah, just you try waving your right hand in the air for even an hour, see what I mean. Don't talk to me about typos tonight.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writing is an Enigma

My fascination with the art of writing began roughly a year ago. It was triggered by a slight increase in the frequency and difficulty of my reading activities. Story books, or novels, of that sort. Reading, as I recall, started becoming fun. And then, as I continued to read more and more books that gave enjoyment, I thought to myself, if they can do it then why not me? The authors of these books astounded me with their proficiency with the pen, and, in my opinion, made the world a better place with the entertainment contained in their writings. This inspired me to, metaphorically, pull a blank sheet of paper off the shelf and procure a pen from the depths of my sleeve, and begin writing in a way that I hoped would please others as they read it as much as it pleased myself to write it.

However, as recent events have lead me to realise, my concepts of writing is wrong. All wrong.

The problem was, I believe, was that I assumed myself to be good at reading, and it follows that I fancied myself able to write. But I now realise that, I am not neccesarily good at reading, I merely like it. On the other hand, I find myself to be very good at watching television. These two hobbies of mine, one that I'm good at and another that I merely like, intertwined themselves inside my imagination, and the result came out awkward.
The proper procedure for beginning a book would include some planning ahead and plotting out the entire length of the story, and then writing it in a suitable form. However, I was not very good at plotting out stories. On the other hand, I was good at watching television. Action scenes, punchlines, and all that sort. As a result, my approach to writing was something like this: I imagine how the scene would look like, in a television fashion, and then endeavour to put it in words.

This, of course, does not work, and I failed miserably.

The art of writing a story is not that simple! You can't just jolly well set your mind on what you want to be pictured, and then describe it in your rustic terms willy-nilly! This, of course, I now realise. As it were, I was looking at it from the wrong direction. I look at the scene I want, and then struggle to get the words to fit them. What I should have done, is I should have decided not on the specific scene, but rather on the essence of the scene, and then bring it into existence using suitable language.

All this, I realise, is so much hot gas to thsoe of them who do not take an interest in writing, of which there are many. Therefore I had best stop spewing trash from my mouth and end this sermon quickly. However, the observant man may be able, if he looked very closely, to find something of use to him, which he may keep in mind and may it benefit him in the future. Or maybe not.
Don't worry, I'll resume writing after a break, at which point I will be able to use this realisation to, hopefully, be less boring.


I think today's update speaks for itself. Anyway, I've pondered upon a lot of things to muse about, and there are quite a number of them. What does "breaking the fourth wall" mean? How many principles does Archimedes have? And a few others which fail to come to me at the moment. That's why I have to put down those that I happen to remember, before they escape.

TAKE NOTE! As soon as I can, I'm going to figure out how to put polls onto this blog. These polls will largely concren you, the reader of the blog, so please respond to them! The responses to the polls will be taken seriously and with deep consideration, so please answer them properly. Also, the poll won't be changed often, but don't forget to check it as you visit the blog, same as for the Cbox.

Photo time! How adorable! And blurry...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hunting Hood 5 - Epilogue

Spinning red lights adorned the tops of the ambulance which constrasted so sharply with the colors of the autumn trees. The police had been informed too, or at least, a police. His car, like the ambulance, had been parked lazily in front of the old cottage at the edge of the forest. Currently, the officer was talking to a heavyset man hefting an axe.

Hoodie sat quietly on the steps leading up to the porch of the cottage, hugging herself with her arms rested on her knees. She was dazed and frightened from what had just happened, and she tried her best not to think about it. Yet no matter how hard she tried to push that memory away, the more it fought back to occupy all the space in her mind.

She laid a hand on the longbow resting on the step beside her.


The wolf, feeling angry and peckish, and acting on some vague memory that stood alone in its head, and also its sense of smell, it made its way through the forest until it came to an old cottage, near the edge of the forest. Its acute sense of smell picked up a scent. It smelled... food. Inside. It needed to get inside. Clearing the steps in one leap, it reached the front door. It pushed against the door. The door didn't move. It scratched the door in an effort to burrow through, but the door was made of wood. The wolf, excited into a frenzy, continued to scratch furiously at the door, but to no avail. Finally, the wolf drew its head back, and with powerful blow, smashed the door with such a force that its  latch was ripped from the doorframe. The wolf entered through the broken-in door. Blood was trickling from its forehead, but it shook it off. Of course it felt a sharp pain from the blow, but currently it was not concious of itself or anything around it, aside from the scent of live meat.

Following its nose, it passed the kitchen without really noticing and procceeded to the bedroom.


Grandma was knitting peacefully in her bedroom, expecting a visit from little Hoodie at any minute, when suddenly a snarling wolf pounced on her and knocked her to the ground. It began to rip and tear at her flesh, but she managed to fight it off for long enough to get up and run into the cupboard, but not before sustaining some terrible gashes to her face and arms. Quite some time later, Hoodie had entered the bedroom to find a bleeding wolf clawing at Grandma's cupboard.


Hoodie could not hold back her scream at the sight of the wolf, blood trickling from its forehead. The wolf heard her and turned to face her. Its previous target had now hidden itself in a safe place, but now here was another human, just as good as the other. It snarled and pounced at Hoodie.

Hoodie panicked, and all of a sudden she found herself reacting on impulse. She lifted an arrow from the quiver, notched it to the bow, drew the string back, and fired. The arrow flew straight and true, and hit the wolf square in the chest, where it fell to the ground.


The wolf died on the spot. Hoodie found Grandma in the cupboard, passed out from loss of blood. Calling for help, she was able to attract the attention of a nearby woodcutter, to whom Hoodie explained everything. He promptly called an ambulance. The police came too, and that brings us to where we are now.

Hoodie was puzzled by pretty much everything that had just happened. She knew that wolves were not in the habit of attacking people, but she had seen with her own eyes a wolf leap at her with intent to kill. The kind policeman had told Hoodie that her Grandma would be okay, so that was fine. But she couldn't rest well until she found out what was wrong with the wolves of the forest.

An that is the story of how the little girl with the red hood, also known as Hunting Hood, began her adventure, armed with the old longbow that belonged to Grandma's grandfather.

Forsi altri cantera con miglior plettro.


So the story of Hunting Hood is over. It didn't end very well, I must admit. I won't say that I'm forced to admit it, since I'll do it of my own free will.

What's with all those funny words at the end? That, good reader, would be a Latin verse, I picked out of don Quixote. It means, "perhaps one will sing with a better pick." In other words, I'm sick and tired of this story and how it turned out, so I'll leave the remainder of Hunting Hood's story for anyone else to complete.

You must excuse me, good reader, for my strange hobby. Writing is something that I have taken a fancy to, and that's why I do it. I realise that I'm not very good at it, but a certain part of me hopes I'll get better at it. I'm like that little nephew who continuously tries to play the tuba, but fails miserably and realises this, and yet, he keeps practising, in the hopes that one day he'll compete with the masters. Just humor my little hobby for now.

After finishing Don Quixote, I went ahead and read another book, the fourth part of the "Hitch-hiker series", So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, by Douglas Adams. I finished it in two sittings. Also, aside from this fourth part, I have only also read the first part. But it was still a good book, even though I have not much clue about what happened between Arthur Dent leaving earth and his returning to it eight years later.

Anyway, that amount of binge-reading has caused me to feel slightly diminished in my own writing, and that's why I wanted to finish the story as soon as possible. To get it off my shoulders. Even though I really had no mood for writing. But hey, one will sing with a better pick. Feel free to completely revise any part of the story to your liking, if you like writing.

That's more than enough story time for the rest of the year, which isn't much, so its back to my random thoughts for a while. For instance, I think I've identified my misunderstandings of the concept of writing. More of that as soon as I can, because in a few hours I'm going to Penang Island. No, you won't get massive everyday updates after that, because its only today and tomorrow. Be more patient!

Friday, December 16, 2011

All things come to and end.

Recent events have led me to come to an epiphany that, indeed, nothing lasts forever. Someday, this life of carefree attitudes and relaxation will end. Someday, every webcomic I know of today will cease to receive updates. Someday, this old house above my head of 40 years of age will go beyond repair. Someday, my Wii will break down. And the list goes on. There is no end to the amount of things that will end.

However, we must not let this stop us from living life enjoyably, for without hope, there is nothing. It is true that many things around us will one day cease to exist, but that is not what matters. We must live in the present. While we still have the chance, we must make the most of everything we care about.

I'm not good at writing heartfelt messages of this sort, so I'll wrap it up here. But what could it be that has caused me to come to such a realisation? What could it be, other than the death of don Quixote de la Mancha.

Recall, good readers, a time long ago, when I stated the following: "Recently I started reading Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Its slightly more than a thousand pages long, and its really quite interesting."
That was, indeed a long time ago. As for when I actually started reading the book, it was a few weeks before the post itself. From then until just last night, I had been reading, at a steady pace, the deeds and daring of the ingenious hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, and his corpulent squire, Sancho Panza. I derived great amusement from their adventures and misgivings, and given the thickness of the book, it seemed that the flower of knight-errantry known as Don Quixote would continue on his adventures for all eternity. Unfortunately, this was not to be. A mere thousand pages does not come anywhere close to the length of infinity.

Without fear of spoilers, I can safely say that end the end of the book, Don Quixote is laid down to rest. The reason I can say this is, this fact is already revealed at the end of the First Part of the History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, which is practically only half way through the book. Another reason is that Don Quixote is not immortal, and that he dies like any other human being is not at all unpredictable. However, Don Quixote now ceases to amuse and entertain the world with his chivalrious adventures.

This is true for all things. Like a good book, they will some day come to an end. However, the important thing is that you enjoyed it while it lasted. At least in the case of books, you can reread them over and over again, although that does not change the ending.


Sorry if I made anyone upset today! But Don Quixote was such a well written book, with a touching ending, and it didn't help that I was reading it in a dark bedroom at midnight. Meh-ish smiley. Anyway, I've also realised that classics are so well written, compared to today's books.  Miguel de Cervantes, if I had a hat I would take it off to you. Lewis Carrol, your imagination knows no bounds. Daniel Defoe was a bit hard to read, but its clear he was an adventurer at heart. People like John Grisham, Roald Dahl, and Brian Jacques don't come anywhere near them. Don't mention Enid Blython in front of me. Although I suppose its not her fault, since her books are directed at children. And yet, I believe I got sick of reading those "The Enchanted Furniture and Other Short Stories" books at the age of 12.

Its been quite some time since the last update, yes? So what lousy excuse do I have this time? I'll tell you, and this one is really quite interesting. We're going Christmas Carolling! Yeah? Neat, right? Of course, don't come to me and request Jingle Bells, or any sort of song that mentions Santa Claus. I won't go any deeper into the issue of people confusing the real meaning of Christmas, but yes, this is a Christian Carolling thing. Santa Claus doesn't exist, people! Come to your senses!

Anyway, our first performance will be on the 21st, so of course time is of essence, and we've been having practice every night since Tuesday. The last update was on Monday, and today's Friday, but I'm not going for carolling practice tonight because of an early family Christmas dinner tonight. These past few days I've been very careful about myself - "Don't play too much video games, your eyes will go funny and you'll be all introvert over again;" "Don't sweat too much or you'll stink from the pits of your arms;" "Make sure you get enough sleep, those dark rings under your eyes will be noticeable," and so on. But why so serious? Well, I'm training up to be the conductor this year, and the conductor stands in front of everyone during practice, and the sopranos sit in the front row, and I will say no more.

Hey, classmates of mine who are reading this! Remember the time when I had to conduct the whole class in singing all those patriotic songs on Malaysia Day? If you go around Flemington or Legend Inn hotels on the 24th, you might just see me in action! If you're lucky. Or unlucky. I hope you don't mind being reminded of that horrible time when you had me as your ruthless vocal instructor.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hunting Hood 4 - Mistidings and Misgivings

Cautiosly, on tip-toe, Hoodie approached the kitchen doorway. There was a noise coming from inside the kitchen. It was a low, animalian breathing sound. If Hoodie listened closely, she could make out the patters of the creature's paws tapping the ground as it paced around. And all the while, it was making a strange, snuffling kind of noise.
Fear turned Hoodie's heart to ice as she pictured in her mind's eye, a fearsome beast with claws of steel devouring her Grandma...

There was no time to lose! Grandma had to be rescued! A sudden burst of courage flowed through Hoodie's body, thawing the ice that froze her heart. Here in the forest, there wouldn't be anyone else around for a mile. Perhaps it wasn't too late. Perhaps Grandma could be saved. She had to act fast.
Hoodie looked down at her hands. The only thing she had with her that could be of any service in a rescue mission was the basket of flowers and mushroom she had under her arm. Shaking it into a more appropriate position, she grasped the handle with both hands and pulled it back.
Then, taking a deep breath, she charged into the kitchen, and with a loud cry, swung the basket with all her might at the hairy creature in the middle of the room.

Hoodie didn't even look where she was swinging as she yelled from the pit of her bravery, and several times the basket connected with her adversary. Then she noticed that something was slightly amiss. When she hit her opponent, it made a light squeal. Not at all the voice of a killer carnivore.
Hoodie opened her eyes, with her basket raised above her head. Trying to hide in the corner behind the stove was the supposed "horrible beast". It was nothing but an adolescent boar, from the forest. In the middle of the room was a bag of Grandma's apples, which the boar must have been eating.
Hoodie looked at the boar, then at the apples, then back to the boar again. Finally, fully and completely dejected, she threw the basket to the ground and collapsed into a sitting position on the floor. Then she covered her eyes with both hands, and with a loud sigh, lay down on the floor. The boar took this opportunity to scoot out the bashed front door, after which it disappeared into the forest.

Hoodie tried to calm herself down. Once she had done that, she tried to think. She had originally thought that whatever beast had broken down the door must have been in the kitchen, and her first instinct was that Grandma must be in trouble. But it turns out that the creature in the kitchen was nothing more than a petty theif, a scavenger, looting a bag of apples. So much for rescuing Grandma from the jaws of the wild animal. She had just gotten herself worked up for nothing. Grandma's going to come out at any minute, and she's going to be very upset when she finds the door broken down. And now the flowers that were meant for her are ruined too.
The contents of the basket had been strewn all over the room during the battle.

And yet... The boar wasn't a very big or strong one either. It wasn't even fully grown. An animal like that wouldn't have been able to break down Grandma's front door, would it?
Hoodie opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling.
Also, how would the boar have known that there was anything to eat in here? Boars do not, by nature, go around bashing down front doors.
Yes, the front door... The were scratch marks on the front door! The animal that broke down the door tried scratching at it first, then resorted to ramming it down! Boars have hooves. They couldn't have made those scratch marks!
Fear gripped Hoodie's heart anew. She sat upright and hugged her knees as she tried to think straight.
That's right, boars have hooves! But the tracks leading into the kitchen were paws!
Hoodie looked at the ground. She hadn't noticed it before, but there were two tracks on the floor. One set of them were the pawprints which had led Hoodie into the kitchen in the first place. The other set of prints were the hooves of the boar, which entered the kitchen, became a muddled mess where the board looted the apples, and then a track leading to the stove, then out the front door. But the set of pawprints went straight through the kitchen, without stopping once, and then...
...Went out the other end of the kitchen, leading to the living room, the library, and...
...Grandma's bedroom!

Hoodie began hyperventilating. She leapt to her feet. Whatever creature that had been able to break down the door was still in Grandma's home! Grandma must be in trouble!
Hoodie looked down at her hands. The only thing she had with her that could be of any service in a rescue mission was the unraveling basket containing a few mushed shrooms and departed petals. Hoodie wasn't sure if the boar was hurt, but the basket hadn't gotten away from the fight unscathed. She needed something to defend herself with.


It was another one of those days. Hoodie was paying a visit to Grandma. They spent the morning eating in the kitchen, as always. Today's breakfast was scones and strawberries, a delicacy they both enjoyed equally.
Grandma and Hoodie were chatting with each other peacably. Apparently, said Hoodie, a mother rabbit had recently given birth to a large family of rabbits nearby Hoodie's wood hut, and they had made their home where Hoodie could check on the frequently. Grandma smiled and commented how nice it must be to be able to get so close to animals. It must have something to do with Hoodie living among them for so long. The forest had taken her in as one of its own.

Hoodie blushed. She always felt a bit awkward about her "relationship with the forest". To hide her embarassment, she adjusted her seat. Just then, her right foot brushed against something irregularly shaped on the underside of the table surface. Hoodie paused for her moment and passed her foot under the table again. Underneath the table, she felt something curved in shape, seemingly glued to the bottom of the tabletop.

"Grandma, what's this under the table?"
"What? Oh... It's the bow that used to belong to my grandfather."
"You had a grandfather? What kind of bow is it?" Hoodie tried bending under the table to look up at the strange contraption hidden there.
Grandma gave a little laugh. "Of course I had a grandfather, dearie. Of course, that was a long time ago. When I was a little girl, my grandfather was an excellent bowman. Every Saturday, he would take that bow and a quiverful of custom-made arrows, and he would go to the archery range, where he contended against his friends. Don't do that, girl, you'll bump your head. Here, come up and I'll take the bow out for you to see."


Hoodie remembered that day. After she had come out from under the table, Grandma had reached under the table and clicked a latch, which held the bow to the underside of the table. Hoodie went to Grandma's side of the table, and reached under the table. She felt a small latch underneath it, holding the bow in its place. Carefully, she pushed it, and... click.


"There you are, then." Grandma pulled the longbow out from underneath the table. Hoodie couldn't tell what kind of wood it was made of, but its design was exquisite, in terms she could not express.
"Wow. Its very nice, Grandma." Hoodie could not take her eyes away from the bow.

Grandma started talking about how her grandfather had been an accurate shot with a bow and arrow, and he had taken several championships in competitions. The bow had actually been custom-made by himself. But all this was lost on Hoodie. She was mesmerized by the beauty and good condition of the object which, while designed to look fancy, was also designed to send an arrow into a target from a distance.

"Of course, these days I keep the bow underneath the table, where its safe from any pesky robbers, or bad weather. Its one of the few things I treasure in my old age." Grandma ran her hands along the woodwork for a while, then fastened the bow back under the table.

"Grandma, are you any good at archery?" Hoodie couldn't think of much else other than the longbow she had just seen.
"Well, of course I'm not great at it, but my grandfather did teach me how to use it, when I was little."
"But what could you use it for, Grandma?"
"You never know, little Hoodie. One day I might get attacked by some ferocious beast from the forest, and at least this old bow would give me something to defend myself with. There's a quiver of my grandfather's arrows in that cabinet there too."
"But Grandma, there aren't any ferocious beasts in the forest. Not this forest, anyway."
"Ooh, don't be too sure about that, Hoodie." Said Grandma, darkly. "One night, I looked out my window and saw a wolf prowling around outside my house. Really, a wolf! And it was even brave enough to come out of the forest and come near my house!"
"But Grandma, wolves aren't ferocious. There is no known record of any wolf attacking a man unprovoked."

Grandma smiled. "Ah? Well, I suppose you would know more about animals than I do. Still, its comforting to have a sort of weapon around the house. Anything might happen, you know."
Hoodie didn't know. But they continued their breakfast and didn't talk about that subject anymore.


The bow now in her hands, Hoodie went over to the cabinet in the corner of the kitchen and opened it. Sure enough, in the cabinet there was a quiver of arrows, each tipped with metal and with a white feather on the other end. They weren't very old, at least not as old as the bow. Grandma must have made the arrows herself.

Slinging the quiver over her shoulder and holding the bow under her arms, Hoodie went over to the other side of the kitchen. Now, she felt ready for anything. Whatever animal had broken down Grandma's front door must be very strong. On the other hand, Hoodie was holding the bow in her hands for the first time in her life. She looked down at it, and once again admired its beautiful woodwork.
And yet, she felt strangely attached to that curved piece of wood. Whether or not she was proficient with its use, its all she had to fight against the ferocious beast. Grandma was most certainly in trouble, and Hoodie was the only one who could save her.

Feeling the same courage that had enabled her to brain a wild boar with a basket of flowers, Hoodie discarded all fears, and followed the track of pawprints down the corridor which led to the living room, the library, and, eventually, Grandma's bedroom.


Aha! Now things are reaching the climax, yes? Now we are starting to see where Hunting Hood gets her name, yes? Hohoho!

Yeah.... I'm probably laughing at myself alone here.

Give me a break. I promised to give a few days of posts in a row, and look, I've done it. Well, yeah! It's still half an hour from midnight! Sighs... And here I am, yelling at myself alone for imposing something so difficult on myself.

Ahem! Don't worry about it! I'm just being a worrywart again. There's just one element of writing that seems to constantly escape my grasp, and I continuously fail to catch a firm grip of it and force it down onto my blank sheet. Well, screen. Either way, I hope my story is not a pain to read.

Anyways, if you don't like the story, you can always jump down to the bottom, where you see a long line of asterisks', and the text stops becoming so annoyingly squiggly and slanted. Yeah, I should probably fix that. Anyhoo, What I mean to say is, aside from the story my blog still contains infos about my daily activities and whatnot, and if it wasn't here, then, What is bloggin all about, then, eh?!

Sorry. Its getting late. I should really get to bed soon. BUT, not before I deliver the good news!
As I have been complaining about these past few weeks, the school magazine has been taking forever to finish, because of a dozen and one problems, the details of which are not worth delving into. HOWEVER, it's over now! This morning (wow, how long ago was that), the other sub-editor went to the printing company together with the finalized version of the school magazine, and they've accepted it without asking us to change everything! Well, alright, received but not accepted. They're still unsatisfied with a few things, but I suppose they've basically given up on use being able to do anything right, because they're going to patch up all the holes for us. After that, its in with the blank ten-half-seven-half-inch pages, and out with the school magazine! In other words, they can print it! In even more other words, all my work is done and gone with! All that remains is to wait for the lot of school magazines to be sent to the school, after which everyone can critisize our terrible design as much as they want. Merdeka, and so on and so forth. (Merdeka - noun, in Malaysianese, meaning "Independence". Can also be taken to mean "Freedom".)

There are a whole lot of other things that deserve to be told about, but its getting too late in the night for any of that.

My dreams have been getting very vague these days, and I have trouble remembering them when I wake up. A sure sign that I've been playing too much video games. Yeah, I have my ways.

I'm pretty much making up these titles as I go along. They don't necessarily have to make sense, so long as they sound nice.

This is the fith day of the blog-everyday run, and I think I'll end it here. Or tomorrow. Let's see which way the wind blows. Or something.

I need to time myself better, allocating less time for video-games and more time for non-video-games. A timetable would help, but then again, ITS HOLIDAYS, DAGNABIT.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A long day

Remember when I said that the Hunting Hood story arc was going to be relaxed, and you could expect several intermissions between story parts? What I actually meant was that there will be intermissions between each story arc. I often mean what I say, but I seldom say what I mean. As in, "What do you mean?" "I can't say."

A few old friends of my father visited our town from the big city this weekend, and my father wouldn't hear of anything but he had to take them around and show them the sight-seeing spots. Yesterday he took them to a firefly show and the night-safari zoo. As for today, he told us he would take them to a mangrove swamp. I asked if this was the mangrove swamp at Port Weld, and he said it was. This is the very same mangrove swamp that my Biology teacher so roundly recommends us students visit. So I thought, why not? I tagged along. My older sister came too, and we towed along my baby sister as well.

So we went to the mangrove, and guess what? Renovations all over the place. We hardly went very deep into the forest, when we found all the planks on both forks of the bridge had been removed. Oh yes, we were walking on a bridge into the forest. I mean, its a swamp for tourists. Of course we wouldn't be sloshing through mud. Yeesh. Anyway, we couldn't go deep into the forest, but I was able to get a few decent nature photos on my camera, as will be seen later.

After that, since the plan for the mangrove was botched, we went to a nearby charcoal factory instead. Apparently we were really lucky, because we just walked in there to poke around, and who should we bump into but a patient of my father who works at the place. Well, of course he gave us a grand tour. Of course it was interesting. And, of course, of course I got a few significant photos there as well. And of course the tour took until way after lunch to finish.

In short, because of the mangrove swamp mishap, followed by the unexpected tour of the charcoal industry, lunch started late. Real late. I mean, like, high-tea time late. Well, we went to a "riverside" seafood restaurant to eat, and before the food even arrived of course I was feeling tired. Well, we eventually finished lunch, then got in the car, and dropped my dad's friends off at their hotel, then shoved off home.

It might not sound like much, but this is the ultra-condensed version. I left out a lot of the bits where we walked some way around the swamp looking for a way to get in, and I left out the bit where my baby sister started crying because of the smell in the charcoal factory, and I left out all the car trips. Just keep in mind that we left at 11 o'clock, and got back at 6 p.m. That's seven hours long. Take into consideration the events I have revealed to you, and add in all the trifling details found in any such, what should I call it, journey, and try to stretch it to seven hours long. You'll understand how tired I must be.

Because of my tiredness, please excuse me of my slightly rustic language in today's update, and I'm also inclined to stop typing right here. Instead, I'll let my photos do all the talking for me.

So, this is a mangrove forest. Lots of trees. Squee.

Oh, looks like the bridge has been torn appart. We can't go
any further. Let's turn back.

There's got to be another path into the swamp.
But all I see are even more trees.....

Hey, look, a different kind of mangrove tree. This one
has funny roots that poke out of the ground.

Wait, what's that in the water? Its an exquisite mud-skipper!
Is that an oxymoron? What does that mean anyway?

We've walked as far as the jetty. Looks like we take the boat,
or turn back. Or swim. Oh, and the view is nice too.

No mangrove, no problem! We passed a charcoal factory
a while back. Let's go there instead.

Wow. So this is where charcoal is made? I see lots of wood.

Oh, and there's a canal too. Apparently its for transporting
wood from the mangrove forest. Remember that boat we
saw back there?

And remember all those trees? They take the trees, and they
turn them into something like this. Now, its ready to be
turned into charcoal.

The end-proccess charcoal looks something like this.

As for the actual charcoaling proccess, I guess I should have taken some pictures of those too. There was a large kiln and everything. If you want to know more about charcoal, Google can probably tell you something.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hunting Hood 3 - Forgotten Pasts

There was the old abandoned wood cabin in the heart of the forest, where little Hoodie made her home. Before Hoodie moved in, the wolves had used it as a kind of shelter. But when the poor little girl with no family appeared in the forest, the wolves were unsure of what to do. The least they could do, was to give her a suitable home....


Little Hoodie didn't rush on her way to Grandma's. Along the way, she paused more than once to "chat" with her animal friends. By the time she reached Grandma's house, almost half an hour had passed. But even as she approached Grandma's house, she felt that something was not right.
Slowing down as she left the dense trees and walked into the clearing where Grandma's cottage was, she felt a certain foreboding atmosphere.

Walking closer to the house, she then noticed that the front door was open. No... not just open, in the normal sense. It had been broken in. Standing in front of the wrecked front door, little Hoodie felt the woodwork delicately with her fingers. The latch was broken off from the doorframe, leaving splinters sticking out of the door on the inside where the latch was ripped off by a large amount of force exerted upon the door from the outside. There were scratches all over the door, and a large indent at knee level, where someone must have rammed the door very hard.

Hoodie began to feel frightened. Carefully, she pushed the door open and stuck her head in.


It took a while for the wolves to convey the message to the little frigthened girl that they wanted her to follow them. After all, something dreadful had just happened to her family, something that she probably couldn't understand, and who knows how long she had been hiding in those bushes, all alone. Eventually, however, the little girl seemed to understand the wolves' intentions, and she got up and followed them.
At first, she called them "little doggies", but after a while she conceded that they were anything but. She came to the conclusion that they must have been wolves, since wolves lived in forests, and doggies didn't. The wolves led her to the wood cabin in the heart of the forest, where she lay down and slept.


There was no one in the living room. Hoodie pushed the door further and entered the little cottage. The living room was surpirisingly intact; whoever had busted in the door hadn't wasted any energy on the living room furniture. But there was something on the floor. Kneeling down, Hoodie found a track of very light dirt pawprints. The pawprints appeared to be... wolf prints, and they led toward the kitchen.


Of course, that was almost nine years ago. The little girl was so very young, and it was unlikely that she would remember any of this in a few years' time. In addition to whatever traumatization she had been through during the bandit attack, the little girl proved to have no memories beyond the day she made the forest her home.


I'm starting to wonder if this story is getting a little too unrealistic, but another part of me doesn't care.

Somehow, I'm not sure if any part of my story is directly plausible. Alright, little Hoodie has a tragic history, having been orphaned by a bandit attack in the middle of the forest. Fine, she was taken in and brought up by a pack of wild wolves. All these are acceptable elements of this sort of story. But do they flow alongside each other well and come together smoothly as a single story? Well, of course! But I still feel that something is missing. Oh well. Only time can tell.

Strangely enough, I don't have much to say today. Today is the third day in a row I have been updating my blog, as promised, and it looks like I might even extend it to five days. Today's bit of story had been typed out in the high hills, so it was just a simple matter of copy-pasta to update today.

Whenever people actually comment in my blogs, I feel like I should reply by commenting back, but that never works. Blogger wouldn't allow one of its members to flood their own blogs with comments from themselves. I'm reduced to resorting to the Cbox, which is kind of difficult, since people who comment might not look at the Cbox. But, you play with the hand you're dealt.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Gallery - Grand Opening!

It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered the "Pages" function provided by Blogger for blogs, and I've since created a page titled "Gallery". What is the purpose of this Gallery? Well, you know those situations when you're reading a book, and you get to a really action-packed scene, and everything is awesome, and you wish you at least had some idea of what the characters look like? Or even, when writing a story, have you ever felt that it would have turned out a lot better if it had been a comic or a movie? No? Well, I have, and this is my blog, so that makes all the difference.

Yes, the Gallery is the place for me to put any picture that I feel so inclined to put, most or all of them depicting some of the, in my opinion, greatest scenes from my stories. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for writing is equally matched by my UNenthusiasm for any form of art or drawing, which is just as well, because I can't even draw a decent stick figure. As such, most of my pictures will be (a) taken from Google images, (b) Photoshopped, (c) a combination of (a) and (b), or (d) drawn by someone else, to whom credit will be given.

As in the case of the first picture, I sifted through Google Images to find a few pictures that match the situation and characters, then I used Photoshop to paste them all into a suitable background. This first picture here is an artist-depiction of the action-packed fighting scene that took place in the PvP arena in the Cleft of Dimensions!

I just knocked it together during my time up in the high hills. Go back to the original battle scene, and see how many of my characters you can identify in this picture!
This picture has been added to the Gallery and the original Cleft of Dimensions post. There are a few other pictures in the Gallery too, so check it out!

The entire blog has been widened significantly. Did anyone notice?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hunting Hood 2 - The Black Sheep of the Pack

The little girl, known as "Hoodie" by her grandma, had lived alone in the forest for as long as she could remember. She could not even remember a time when she had a mother, or a family. She could not remember a time when she didn't live in the old abandoned wood cabin in the heart of the forest. All she could remember was how she fended for herself, surviving on nuts and berries, all alone, in the middle of the forest, with only the animals as her companions, ever since she was a little child.
But the wolves remembered.

They remembered a time, once, a long time ago, when they came across a terrible scene of carnage. There was one and only one path leading through the forest. It was along this path that the wolves found the wreckage. There were carriages, or at least what remained of them. Piles of charrred wood and wheels were all that remained of a bandit attack the previous night. The wolves kept their distance from the wreckage. The smell of blood was in the air. The pack leader went ahead, sniffing the air carefully. Then, he heard a noise. A soft crying noise. Following the sound of the crying, the wolf poked his head around the bush, and found a little girl, curled up into a ball and sobbing into her knees.


It was a bright and sunny afternoon. Rays of sun poked through the leaves of the canopy of trees overhead. The little girl Hoodie made her way through the forest with a basket under her arm. She was on her way to Grandma's house, and as always she was bringing a basket of flowers and mushrooms with her.
Then, out of the bushes came a single wolf. Lone wolves were not common in the forest, but there were a few. Hoodie stopped and smiled. She loved all animals, but wolves had a special place in her heart. She approached the wolf and bent down to stroke the wolf's head.
"Hello there, little wolf," she said, still stroking the wolf's head. "What are you doing out here, all alone in the forest? Its not good to be alone, you know. Everyone need someone in the world."
The wolf looked up at her and whined.
"I used to be alone, too." Little Hoodie went on. "It was terrible. But that was before I met Grandma. She's such a nice old lady. I'm on my way to visit her now. Do you want to know where her house is?"
The wolf just stared at her as she stroked its head.
"See this little path on the grass here? Its not really a path, but since I've been taking the same route to Grandma's house everyday, my feet have kind of made a path on the grass. Just follow the path, and you'll reach Grandma's house."
Little Hoodie stood up. "Well, I had better be going now. Grandma's probably waiting for me." Then, waving goodbye to the wolf, she skipped off into the forest.

Once little Hoodie had left, the wolf slinked back into the bushes to continue its hunt for food. Suddenly, it caught a whiff of meat in the air. Following its nose, it came across a small clearing in the forest, where a piece of red and juicy meat was just sitting there, unprotected...
The wolf leapt at it, and ate it...
Then everything went black....
And when the wolf came to, it was drooling profusely, and its eyes were bloodshot red. It got up. It didn't know what it was, and it didn't know what just happened. All it knew was that it was very angry, and very, very hungry. And Grandma's house was somewhere in that direction.....


Well, then! I'm back from the high hills. I don't have much to say about what happened up there, since telling other people what happened during my holidays is something other blogs do, and anyway my trips are practically uneventful most of the time. But the cool air and lack of internet was really refreshing, and I had loads of time to prepare more blog posts.

Today's chapter is basically knocked together using several classic aspects of story-telling. Little children raised by wolves is one, and animals going mysteriously berserk is, in a way, another. Keep in mind that there will be updates for the next three days at least, and probably more.

One thing about the trip to the highlands is, I finally got another picture of my little sister! Here she is, taking a nap in her baby seat in the car on the jouney:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Alright, I'm leavin for Cameron Highlands in less than half an hour, so here's a really quick update on the situation:

I'm leaving for Cameron Highlands today, Monday morning, and I get back on Wednesday, around evening. Up in the mountains, there is no internet connection, and it is cold. The lack of internet means I will NOT be able to update my blog at all. On the other hand, the very same internet connection, combined with the cold weather, creates the perfect atmosphere for meditating, or whatever. Not really meditating. Basically I mean reading books all day. But I'll also be able to pre-type blogs while in Camerons, so when I get back, there will be a FLOOD of updates for a few days, and that's all I have to say. See ya!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hunting Hood 1 - The Flowers of the Forest

There was once... a girl. A young girl, who couldn't have been more than twelve years of age. This little girl lived alone, in a forest. With only the animals around her as her companions, she made her home in an old abandoned wood cabin in the heart of the forest. And what a mysterious girl she was. She had no family, at least none that she knew of, and she spent a lot of time skipping through the forest, collecting flowers and berries. Oftentimes, she would take some time to interact with some of the animals in the forest. She would talk to them gently, and often stroked their heads as she did so, whereas the animals would look up at her attentively as she spoke, as if they could understand every word she said.
The animals loved her, and eventually they could all recognise her from a distance by the sound of her voice and the red hood she always wore over her head.

At the edge of the very same forest, in an old but well-kept cottage, lived an old woman. This old woman lived alone, ever since her children all left her to lead lives of their own. Her children, all of them grown up and wealthy, often offered to buy a nice city villa for their mother, but she refused. The old cottage was where she had been born and raised, and she was determined that she would continue living there until her time should come. The cottage was of moderate size, and the old woman kept it clean, while she whittled away her days by busying herself with housework. Occasionally, she would venture into the forest to collect fruits and mushrooms for her pantry. But how she wished for a bit of company in her old age.

The little girl and the old woman lived in the same forest, each unaware of the other. But it was inevitable that they would eventually meet, and this happened one day when one was picking flowers and the other collecting mushrooms. They bumped into each other in a small clearing in the trees, and you can guess how shocked they were upon seeing another person in the forest. And that's where the story begins. One was a little girl, living all alone and fending for herself with no parental guidance. The other was an old mother, all her children having left her, and she longed for a companion and a young child to take under her wing, as she had done in her earlier years. In a sense, the two were a perfect match for each other. The old woman invited the little girl to visit her cottage, and the little girl lead the woman to her own run-down wood cabin in the forest.
The two got along well, and the old woman started calling the little girl "Hoodie", because of the cute red hood she always wore on her head, and the little girl called the old woman "Grandma", because of her elderly and motherly wisdom.
Grandma wanted little Hoodie to stay with her in her cottage, which would have easily accomodated the two of them. But Hoodie refused. She enjoyed living alone, spending her time dancing through the forest, accompanied by her animal friends. However, just like Grandma, Hoodie longed for someone to chat with every so often. They both agreed that one would visit the other on occasion, to make sure that the other was in good health.

And that is how the old woman and the little girl in the forest began their inseparable, if slightly strange, relationship.


Alright, I know what you guys are thinking right now, and I'll proceed to answer all your questions one by one.
1. I just finished a three-part story arc, and now I'm starting another one? Am I sure about this?
The answer is, yes, but this story arc is going to be a lot more relaxed, and will be split into several smaller parts than the previous "Classroom Scandal" story. I have a good feeling about this one.
2. Is this story basically an improvised Little Red Riding Hood?
Yes, but I'm making this version a lot more dramatic, something I'm good at. The whole story will, ultimately, be based on Little Red Riding Hood, as you have probably detected a few recognisable icons from the story in today's update. But because of the added dramaticness, and also the story will be a lot more blown-out than the usual kid's version, I changed the title to Hunting Hood, which may or may not be connected to some part of the story. It depends on how I decide to do things later. Also, I finally get to use a heroine in one of my stories! Smiley!
3. Okay, Little Red Riding Hood's grandma was her actual, family-line grandma, and Little Red herself lived with her mother, who sends her to grandma's house as we can see in the story, and....
Stop right there. First of all, those facts either (a) are not confirmed in the story, (b) vary throughout the many editions/translations, or (c) interfere with my own story, so I changed things around a little.

Also, do not be surprised if I have several intermission updates between the many story parts, because as I mentioned, this will be a very relaxed story arc.

OH, One more thing. I forgot to mention this, but tomorrow morning, I'm of to the high hills! Cameron's, to be exact. Its never a proper year-end holiday in my family if we didn't go to Cameron Highlands at least once. This means three days and two nights with no internet access. But that's okay, because we'll have the laptop there, so I'll prepare everything all nicely typed out for a massive three-or-more-days-in-a-row update everyday when I get back.

Something funny happened today. Well, okay, maybe not that funny, but its worth hearing. I was sitting at the back of church today, and one row in front of me were a pair of young twins. During the sermon, they started to nod off, and after a while they were in that unnamed pose where one rests one's head on the other's shoulder, and the other rests the other's head on the one's head. I think you know what I mean. It was so adorable, I was wondering if I should take a picture of it and post it here, but in the end I didn't because (a) I was sitting behind them, so the picture would have been the back of their heads, (b) taking a picture like that might have ended me up in all sorts of trouble, and (c) I was too lazy to get out my handphone. So instead of an actual picture that you can see with your eyes, I'm leaving you with an image of it in your heads. Anyway, if you feel that I should indeed have taken the picture, comment about it!