…not that there’s a cache of enslaved rice grains somewhere in the world that we haven’t been told about until now.

What I’m referring to is this: a site where you play a vocabulary game, and with each right answer, you indirectly donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. …or so it says. I wouldn’t know; as my “About” page indicates, I’m frankly not interested in engaging in an endless debate on the trustworthiness of sites like these, or in the reliability of the whole notion of charity. Nope. I’m just here to introduce you guys to a pretty nifty word game that makes you realise that you maybe aren’t that forgetful when it comes to words…you just need a little prompting via multiple choice.

I maxed out at level 47. Floated between there and 39 for quite a while – you win 3 rounds to level-up and lose 1 round to de-level – before my brain protested against unwanted lessons in philology. (…which, by the way, is a word in the game).

How far can you get?



Bah. I know I’ve promised a whole slew of less self-absorbed posts, like more on the ASEAN scholarship, GRRM, So Far, Hana Kimi, etcetera, but I’ve been caught up with research essays. and I couldn’t help getting suckered into joining Nanowrimo this year. …So here’s a couple of links to the NaNoWriMo site, my member page; and see you in December! (where is the collective moan of despair? doesn’t anyone love my little textual voice?)

What’s NaNoWriMo? It’s essentially a project to write 50,000 words in a month; and it’s quantity, rather than quality, that counts. It works toward just getting your creative juices flowing, to use a really tired phrase about creativity that says a lot about just how creative people are nowadays – ahem. Well, to take on the project requires nothing more than signing up at the Nano site, perhaps joining a region or a group to share ideas, encouragement, and eventually congratulations with…and of course, a plot you want to expand into 50,000 words. You “win” if you reach 50k before the November 30th midnight, you “lose” otherwise. “Win” in quot. marks because there isn’t a prize, you just feel satisfied you’ve done it and you can now tell people you’ve written a 50k novel without having to lie anymore. (You’ve done that?) Losing doesn’t matter either. Nobody reads your novel unless you want them to, because the site doesn’t host your novels. Hm, and if you were wondering, that’s 1666.666…7 words per day. That’s all I can think of offhand that I really wanted to know when I first signed up a couple of days ago. Check the FAQ and About pages on the Nano website to find out more.

Why have I signed up? Good question. Why am I here? Why do I live? Who am I? What is life?!

Though a’course, if things work out, I’ll probably be wanting to post an excerpt, or two, or godhelpme several chapters, and I’m not sure where to post them. Should I start a livejournal account just for it? Or just post here? Wonders. I’ll think about it. As of now, I have very little more than a gimmicky idea that looks like it could bud into a plot if I water it enough and give it some sporadic affection. I have a Fool. Not this Fool, or this Fool, but this Fool. Though they’re all connected, and it might be interesting to put all those definitions of Fool into one.

Adding Nano onto my list of things to do this November just reminds me exactly how easily distracted I am, how much I want and have to do, and how little time there is. Gah. Is it strange therefore that I’m not actually worried about meeting the 50k goal? I’m more concerned about my impending lack of sleep. Check back with me on the state of my eyebags come November 30th. ๐Ÿ˜›

righty-o. i might be entering the discussion a little late, considering the brouhaha back in february this year about whether the ASEAN scholarships, particularly the pre-university ones, are scams or true golden opportunities. i think, though, that this is the time that most of you prospective scholars will be sitting for entrance test, or receiving offer letters and thus debating what to do with them. i’d love to write a detailed piece about the ASEAN pre-university scholarship from my point of view, tips, advice, the works.

and i will. unfortunately, i have to finish middlemarch by tomorrow and i have a major essay to write on ian mcewan’s (fantastic) atonement, so i really don’t have the couple of hours i expect it will take to write all of what i’d like to write…so don’t be surprised if it takes til next weekend for something to appear on this blog about the scholarship.

then again, the more i think about it, the more i want to get to writing about my experience as soon as possible. so here’s a little encomium-like postamajig. (i’m like that. lazy. impulsive. and occasionally impassioned, when i’m not being lazy, and when impulse drives me that way.)

if you’re one of those prospective scholars, and are really on the fence about accepting it or not – then let me give you a sort of warning about it. to me, it’s the perfect example of extremes. polarity. it’s unbelievable fun, but unbelievable work; it gets you almost drunk with enthusiasm, and also leaves you utterly, braindead tired. most people go into it hesitant, wondering, a little nervous, suspicious of how much the singaporean education system lives up to its reputation of rigid rote-learning and yeah, elitism. by the end of the month, some will be loving it, literally having the time of their lives, squeezing what seems to them like every ounce of excitement there can be had out of every second they have. there won’t be enough hours in the day to do all you can and want to do. there won’t be enough space in your phone’s address book for all the people you’ve met. and some will be hating it, feeling utterly alienated, a stranger in the crowd, amazingly exhausted, and painfully homesick. and some will do both – love, and hate, anticipate and dread the next day. some will give up. some will stay.

i know quite a few people who gave up. only ‘direct scholars’ do it though, which are people like me and probably like you who came or will go to singapore from high school somewhere else. i don’t know how happy these people are, wherever they’ve gone, whatever they chose to do instead of sticking with the ASEAN way. i think i experienced everything i described up there in that longish paragraph, and i did almost give up in the first year and go home, but then i thought: it is monstrously hard work, but it is unbelievable fun, and i’d rather be slogging through work some days to get to those amazing fun days, pushing the limits both ways, than to settle into some dull haze of inbetweenness. so i stuck through it, and though i have LOTS i can say about those 2 years, basically the outcome was that i now look back on it as the most fulfilling, most satisfying, the most damn fun period of my life. those friends i made are likely to be sitting beside me on identical rocking chairs when we’re all white-haired octogenarians in some distant future that we scholars have helped create. and if we didn’t create it – hell, we still ended up with 2 years of fantastic memories.

if you think you’ve got the competitive streak in you, then you won’t be wasting your time with the ASEAN scholarship. go ahead and take it. unbiased opinion, that. i’m not even in singapore right now, and i didn’t even get 3As. but i’m glad i accepted the damn thing.

*psst* besides, all you need is a little luck and quick wits, and you can actually do fairly well without mugging too hard. (mugging = studying. you’ll learn the lingo when you get to singapore.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ */psst*

i’ll talk about money and the details of schoolwork and so on in another post. middlemarch beckons, and i do have to supplement some of that luck and quick wit with a little real reading.

meanwhile: if you’re another ASEAN scholar stopping by, do tell me if your experience agrees with mine, or if it objects hotly and viciously, and feels a need to connect bare live wires with wet skin. my skin.

Play Luminara.

…Raaargh. I’m addicted to this online game.

I keep thinking of little smidgety cutesy voices squealing before my upgraded squirt towers. And I now have an obsession with closing up spaces. Closingupspaces. Last night I even dreamed about this awesome pattern I could make out of frost and bash towers.

I’d advise you to think twice before clicking that link. Or, if you already clicked it – consider closing the window before buying that first tower. It’ll change the next few days (weeks? months? oh god, how long am i going to be tormented with this addiction?!) of your life. Irreversibly.

Desktop Tower Defense ftw!

…die, flying evilthings.

What is so addictive about Desktop TD? It’s just a click-and-upgrade flash game after all; and, yeah, the satisfaction of watching your invaders dwindle away at the mercy of your mighty little hand-drawn towers is probably rather petty. But no denying it, I’m hooked, and I’m not the only one. ๐Ÿ˜€ Maybe it’s the satisfaction of laying out the maze, although I’m not very good at it. I can’t seem to get past the fast ones, or the flying ones, at around the 40th level of Hard mode.

Desktop TD, rarrrgh. Muarrhgh. Yearhg. Gaaaaah.

…news here.

I’m…shocked. Sad. Shocked. I’m not sure which. His was probably the first real ‘epic’ fantasy series I’d read, Eddings and Brooks aside, and decidedly the very first series I was actively ‘following’…he was always so confident and optimistic in his blog, it seemed like if anyone was going to overcome this disease, he was. I loved his writing (The Wheel of Time series) regardless of how they might’ve slowed down later on in the series, and I think I somehow expected him to trump all our expectations with a totally blowoffyafeet last novel, the now unfinished A Memory of Light.


A more fitting title I can’t imagine. Like Pat said, thanks for the experience, and the memories. And that extends to more than the books. Without The Wheel of Time, I’d never have gone on to explore the genre as much as I have.

Note: Robert Jordan’s page at Wikipedia has been updated, if you’d like to go and find out more about what he wrote other than The Wheel of Time.

i watched Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige on DVD yesterday, loved it. the book it’s based on, Christopher Priest’s World Fantasy Award winner of the same title, has been waiting for me to get my grubby hands on it – it just has to go through 8 more pairs of grubby hands before it reaches my local library, and i’m especially keen on reading it because for a change, people have been saying the movie > book. now that’s really good news; it shows that you don’t necessarily have to compromise when you’re making a film adaptation. after all, you adapt it to fit your medium, and it looks like the Nolan brothers certainly did that, and well. but i’ll reserve final judgment til i actually read The Prestige.

can’t believe i missed out on watching it last year. think i’ll go look up more of Nolan’s stuff.

that’s it for regretful reflection. now it’s time for excited expectation! within the next few hours, OverClocked ReMix‘s newest project Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream will be available online. free. 4 discs. yes! their very first official remix album from final fantasy, and from the pretty much unarguably most famous final fantasy to boot. what’s not to get excited over? the advance review seems to promise it is every bit as good as it sounds – sure, ocremix has churned out some less than likeable remixes on its site, and its also got its share of meh projects – the EarthBound one i found hard to appreciate in its entirety – but this is final fantasy. no one’s going to mess around with nobuo uematsu’s fine work in FFVII; i’m convinced this will be anything but mediocre. take the Chrono Trigger project as an example; fantastic, ingeniously remixed stuff. i love that it wasn’t just single tracks being reworked, but multiple tracks went into one remix, including material from Chrono Cross. So: OverClocked, receive my trust. it’s a small and insubstantial thing, but it’s all for you.

on a more personal note, me and a friend have decided to embark on a, uh, quest for enlightenment. spec fic enlightenment. *wry grin* we’ve drawn up a plan to read all the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners for novel, and probably the short stories too…and if we have time or we hear that a nominee for a particular year should have won instead, we’ll read the nominees as well. and maybe the novellas and novelettes. *ponders* we figure that since we’re still youthful and fresh-like, we might as well design a project for ourselves that’ll give some productive structure to our currently unproductive free time, and besides, the both of us love speculative fiction. and besides, i’m a damned literature student. why the hell am i not reading more!? argh! i’m an idiot! a big idiot! an idiot for idiots! an idiot of idiots! idiots call me idiot!

anyway, come the mid-semester holidays, i’ll probably put up a pic or spreadsheet or someotherformat with all my intended readings on it, and tick it off as i go. ๐Ÿ˜€ what i’ve read off that list is uh, very limited. if anyone has any suggestions what i should start on first, go ahead and tell me, please.