Signal Boost: KL Noir – BLUE

Signal Boost

This has been going on for a while, but I finally got the official information so I’m really happy to announce that one of my stories, “Unwanted Utopia II: Deviant”, will be one of the stories in Buku Fixi’s “KL Noir – Blue”!

To be launched next week on 21 April 2014, “KL Noir – Blue” is an anthology of crime fiction set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the third of four anthologies to be produced under the KL Noir series. This time, their theme, Blue, looks at the definitions and perspectives of justice.

Some of the authors, together with publisher Amir Muhammad (from Buku Fixi), and the editor of “KL Noir – Blue” Eeleen Lee will be there. Therefore, if you’re around the area, do check out this launch!

Book Launched: KL Noir – Blue
Date:
21 April 2014 (Monday)
Time:
8:00PM to 9:30PM
Venue:
KLCC Kinokuniya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

For more information on the event, click here. To find out more about Buku Fixi or Fixi Novo and what they do, click here. To check out Eeleen Lee and her works, click here.

Signature

Decode: Adventure: International TableTop Day! #AreYouGameEnough?

Decode Adventure

International TableTop Day 2014 has come and gone. Now, we only have one question…

WERE YOU GAME ENOUGH?

We were all locked and loaded.

We were all locked and loaded.

First of all, I would like to thank Mintea and Dude for their place and hospitality during this event. Secondly, to the rest of the Valkyrie Knights for being such great sports to this day and major shout-outs to those who couldn’t physically be with us!

So without further ado and whatever, here’s how our International TableTop Day went!

Game #1: Monopoly: Singapore Then and Now (by Hasbro)

In mint condition!

In mint condition!

My collection at the end of the game.

My collection at the end of the game.

We started the session by breaking in Raven’s newly-bought Monopoly: Singapore Then and Now, two boards in one – Singapore Then, with the landmarks of our past and the use of the familiar Monopoly money, and Singapore Now, with our current commercial landmarks and the use of flashy (well, not so much) credit cards and a device that calculated all our card-stored millions. To find out more about the game, click here.

Winner: Sarah (because she went to own all the MRTs)
Key Moment: This is probably a tie between the time the Tiger and I were negotiating land trade with Mintea and the moment after the Tiger was sent to jail for the second time, right after making fun of Raven for going to jail.

Game #2: Takenoko (by Antoine Bauza, Matagot, Bombyx)

When the Tiger and I bought it in Australia.

When the Tiger and I bought it in Australia.

Teaching the game to new players. Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart.

Teaching the game to new players. Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart.

Though we actually wanted to play Betrayal by this time, Raven caught eye of one of the games I brought – Takenoko, and was immediately taken in by the cuteness that was the Panda counter. One of my favourite games, I played Gamemaster while virgin Takenoko players built colourful gardens and grew incredibly cute lengths of bamboo. To find out more about the game, click here.

Winner: The Tiger
Key Moment:
The constant halting of the game because Lyn, Viki, and Lina were too overwhelmed by the cuteness of the panda and gardener playing pieces.

Game #3: Betrayal at House on the Hill (by Wizards on the Coast)

Mintea and Dude bought it after playing it for the first time with us.

Mintea and Dude bought it after playing it for the first time with us.

Now... where are those things?!

Now… where are those things?! Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart.

One of our favourite games of all time, Betrayal at House on the Hill was the game that got me back into analog gaming. The game board changes every time you play since you build your own haunted house and explore its creepy interior before the real “fun”, or in our case, the haunt, starts. With 50 haunts and no one ever knowing who among you is the traitor until the haunt starts, this game boasts massive replayability, if you’re game enough for it. To find out more about the game, click here.

Winner: The Traitor, who happened to be me.
Key Moment:
Lyn going, “You better not put my doll in the basement!!!” while they were frantically searching for the voodoo dolls during the Haunt.

Game #4: Cards Against Humanity (by Cards Against Humanity)

Many thanks to J, who brought it out for us!

Many thanks to J, who brought it out for us!

And our answer is...

And our answer is…

We finished off with a quick round of Cards Against Humanity, easily one of the favourite games of the VK as well because it’s so deviously evil. The game is easy enough – you get random white cards with answers printed or written on them, then you choose one of those cards to answer a random question on a black card. What makes this game go up to the next level is the countless attempts of players trying to explain their answers. Without much success. To find out more about this game, click here.

Winner: A tie between Sarah and the Tiger
Key Moment:
Pretty much all the time when we had to place our answers onto the table for each black card scenario.

So that’s all for this year! To be honest, it was a pretty good run (going from 2 in the afternoon to 8 in the evening), and we hope it’s going to be the first of many. Until next year then!

Note: Most of the pictures were courtesy of Sarah Coldheart. You can check out her adventures and website here.

If you would like to see more of the games we play, I do update my Analog Gaming Tumblr, Blanket Fortress Play, twice a month. Or you can check out other gaming channels on YouTube like Geek & Sundry’s “TableTop” or Team Hypercube.

P/S – TableTop is fundraising for its new series on YouTube, if you like board games and would like to see more of them, support them by clicking here!

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Decode: Adventure: Melbourne Day #1

Decode Adventure

MALTEASTERS!!! Malteser bunnies.

MALTEASTERS!!! Malteser bunnies.

I had to open with that, since it was the last snack we both took before our domestic flight from Adelaide to Melbourne early that afternoon.

Note: Let me take an aside and commend Virgin Australia on their flights – great value, quick check-in, efficient baggage drop, spacious seats (legroom!!!), and smooth flight. We had a bit of bumps here and there just before landing in Melbourne, but the rest of the trip was incredibly smooth.

So transfer and check-in was relatively quick. The room was definitely much simpler than the one we had in Adelaide, but check out the view!

The entrance to our hotel...

The entrance to our hotel…

View outside our window

View outside our window

City view from our hotel

City view from our hotel

We made it out of to the city quickly this time, having a light lunch at Pie Face, a savoury pie chain in Melbourne. From what we heard, it was widely popular among students, which made sense since you could see RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) buildings almost everywhere in the city.

The food was pretty good though, I was quite happy to finally get a chance to get a taste of a Australian-style meat pie. I got a Steak & Mushroom stack (which tastes much nicer than it looks), which is a meat-and-mushroom-filled puff pastry pie topped with mushy peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy. DELISH.

Trust me, it tastes way better than it looks.

Trust me, it tastes way better than it looks.

They've been around for a decade or so and are still growing

They’ve been around for a decade or so and are still growing

Different faces for different pies =)

Different faces for different pies =)

Pie Face is located all over Melbourne City. To find out more about them, click here.

Satisfied and excited, the Tiger and I took a walk along one of the main roads, before spotting “Hill of Content” and kick-starting the Melbourne leg of the Book Trail, which you can read about in detail here.

Stroll tiemz!

Stroll tiemz!

The facade of the Town Hall

The facade of the Town Hall

One of their few Cathedrals

One of their few Cathedrals

One of our favourite places - DeGraves Street

One of our favourite places – DeGraves Street

They had pop-up places at street corners almost everywhere - this one sold crepes

They had pop-up places at street corners almost everywhere – this one sold crepes

Federation Square at sunset

Federation Square at sunset

There is a certain kind of comfort you get to experience when you explore the streets of a new city, and the Tiger and I were gushing over the beautiful architecture, the random bike stations (people could rent a bike to ride in the city), the interesting shop lanes and alleyways, and the dry, but cool and windy weather.

We met his friends – Jun Lynn and Michelle – for dinner and dessert that evening. Going to Federation Square and the Yarra River for a bit, we finally settled at the Meatball Wine and Bar for a wonderful dinner. (We were really hoping that it was good though, it was a 45-minute wait in the queue)

Yes, yes.

Yes, yes.

If you look really closely, you'd laugh at its wit.

If you look really closely, you’d laugh at its wit.

Sharing three huge portions of meatballs and a cheese plate, we had a combination of beef with homemade pasta and tomato, pork with garden vegetables and pesto, and chicken meatball sliders. The cheese had great bite, the different cheeses carrying varying levels of savour and freshness.

The meatballs themselves were amazing as well. The chicken sliders were huge – well-flavoured, herb and chicken meatballs served as a great body against the melted cheese and soft slider bun. The pork gave a great burst of flavour as well, the sweetness of the meat against the fresh crunch of the broccoli and the tang of the pesto and sprinkled cheese. Lastly, the succulent beef was probably the best (in my opinion), full-flavoured and a great accompaniment to the tangy tomato sauce and homemade pasta.

The Cheese Plate

The Cheese Plate

The Beef Meatballs with Homemade Pasta

The Beef Meatballs with Homemade Pasta

Chicken Meatball Sliders

Chicken Meatball Sliders

Pork Pesto Meatballs on Broccoli

Pork Pesto Meatballs on Broccoli

As beautiful as a Still Life (that you can eat)

As beautiful as a Still Life (that you can eat)

The Meatball Wine and Bar is located at 135 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000. To find out more about them, click here.

Craving for dessert soon after, we took a walk to Lygon Street, also known as Little Italy to the residents of Melbourne. There, we went to a place highly recommended by a few of the Tiger’s friends – Koko Black.

From where we were seated

From where we were seated

Chocolate merch on sale

Chocolate merch on sale

Truffles and artisan chocs!

Truffles and artisan chocs!

Best stack ever. (For now)

Best stack ever. (For now)

The entrance...

The entrance…

I would swear that the existence of these places really show Australia’s love for their confections. Set in the classically decorated café, the Tiger and I shared an Alchemy Cake, together with other orders of Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Affogato.

Before I give my view though, let me just tempt you with a few pictures.

All our orders (clockwise from the top): 2 Hot Chocolates, the Alchemy Cake, Chocolate Affogato

All our orders (clockwise from the top): 2 Hot Chocolates, the Alchemy Cake, Chocolate Affogato

Hello chocoholics, this is paradise calling...

Hello chocoholics, this is paradise calling…

In detail, the Alchemy Cake look very much like something you would see when you excavated land that is highly-prized by geologists. From what we got, this was how the Alchemy Cake was like:

  • Dark Chocolate Shell
  • Chocolate-coated Caramel Bits
  • Dark Chocolate Sauce
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Dense Chocolate Cake

It was a feast for the senses – the right about of crunch from the caramel, the great balance of the bitterness of the dark chocolate against the sweetness of the caramel, and the smoothness of the mousse complimented the density of the cake perfectly. A single bite of all five layers will send all your facial senses into a tizzy of goodness.

(Note: I still love you, Haigh’s, don’t worry)

This Koko Black branch is located at 167 Lygon Street, Carlton VIC 3053. For more information, click here.

Filled to the brim, we ended the night with a cool, night walk back to the hotel. Not bad for the first day (or half a day) in Melbourne.

P/S – You can follow our adventures with the tag “adelaide-melbourne adventure 2014”

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Next-in-Reading #11: Drama City

Next in Reading

Title: Drama City
Author: George Pelecanos
Publisher: Phoenix
Year: 2006

“You’re human, is all.”

One of my spoils from The Book Grocer, in Melbourne =)

One of my spoils from The Book Grocer, in Melbourne =)

Out of prison and on probation, Lorenzo Brown is doing his best to leave his drug-riddled past and go straight with his new life. Hardworking Probation Officer Rachel Lopez finds get recovery potential in Brown, but is struggling with her own alcoholic problems. When the gang life threatens to reclaim Brown, both of them have to work together to ensure that the threat is eradicated, and come out of it walking the straight line.

Character(s)

Lorenzo Brown, Reformed Addict

On parole after eight years in prison, Brown presents an extraordinary drive to rehabilitate himself and go the straight road. His determination is rather strong, shown in his passion for his work (transferring from a paper pusher to a field Animal Control officer) and his honesty with Lopez, his probation officer. It was also mentioned multiple times of how Lopez saw him as one of the cases with the most potential to thrive back in society.

Despite his determination to go legit, Brown possesses a certain amount of loyalty – in his relationships and his past. His desire to see his daughter shows a loyalty to his child – an honest, familial love that is often rejected. And while he had made a promise to not return to the gangs, he continues to see Nigel, the boss he ran for before going to jail, and giving him information on possible violent acts against the latter, though he is not directly involved.

Rachel Lopez, Addict Reformer

Like Brown, she is committed to her job, and holds a balanced amount of empathy to her cases. However, she too, possesses a cynicism comparable to Brown’s. As much as she wants to steer all her cases back into the world, she knows there are some people who “do not want to be saved”.

As such, she transfers these uncontrollable factors into actions she can “control” – alcohol and sex. Her aggressive drinking and constant want to be dominating in bed can speak of a frustration she has been trying to seek relief for – something she is unable to do at work. However, she is still able to seek relief in the support group sessions she attends towards the end of the novel, which offers an additional option for her to feel better about her job.

Theme(s)

Second Chances and Rehabilitation…

One of the aspects I love about Crime Fiction is how many of them end up showing the glimmer of faith and hope in a drastically hopeless situation – especially on first glance. Drama City is set in a place which is portrayed to be an economic and social hellhole – rampant crime, violent gangs, almost hopeless people who do not go above “menial jobs”.

However, the environment is largely juxtaposed with Brown’s drive and motivation to go along the legitimate route. His passion for his area of work (animal welfare) is shown early in the novel, later unraveling to show how much he was willing to put in if given the chance.

He also serves as a second chance to Lopez, telling her that it’s only human to err, but somehow gives her motivation to forgive and heal herself with his own intention to do so. In addition, his genuine love for his daughter (putting aside money for her college fund) also shows a kind of second chance he’s giving to himself – self-forgiveness.

Style & Structure

Pelecanos places a great amount of effort in the street language of the book. Slang is rampant in this story, which could make the issue more relatable, and also injects a sense of reality – the issue is real, not just played out in television dramas.

The style can also be said to encroach into the territory of hardboiled – Brown’s constant standing of his want to go straight despite all the temptation he had to face. There is hardly anything that breaks down the characters, who in turn, deal with all these factors with intense cynicism or physical relief.

For more information on George Pelecanos and this book, click here.

In the meantime

Next-in-Reading will be taking a break in April for two main reasons –

  1. I’ll be doing Camp Nanowrimo, so that will take up quite a bit of time. If you would like to check them out, click here.
  2. Other projects and things that are not this blog are starting to pick up. Therefore, I’m trying to reshuffle a few things so that I don’t get a burnout.

Regardless, thanks for reading Next-in-Reading thus far and I’ll see you all in May!

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Update [Apr 2014]

Literary Event of the Month

I’m having a bit of a hard time writing this section because we had a few good events and trails in Australia. However, I would say that my literary event of the month would be our Book Trail in Australia.

Gorgeous view from the top level

Gorgeous view from the top level of the Victoria State Library

The Adelaide Writers’ Week was incredible though, and it has a mention in the post of the Book Trail so you can access my other Writers’ Week posts through there too! You could have a glimpse on the rest of the events through the Writers’ Week blog here as well.

Blanket Fortress Play

Blanket Fortress Play saw a couple more card games this month – Fictionaire and Gloom. I was introduced to Citadels (FINALLY) so that may appear on the blog soon enough. Game of the Month for Team Hypercube this month was Dexterity Games, so you can check out their channel for those.

Regardless, I am looking forward to Tabletop Day (5 APRIL)! Probably have a post here on our analog game adventures that day!

Mar-BFP

Writery Endeavours and Wattpad

Next-in-Reading carries on, with a rather diverse range of stuff – a gothic graphic novel, a light-hearted piece of crime fic, and a collection of poems by one of my favourite Singaporean writers, Guan Liang. Do check out some of his stuff in various journals and anthologies as well.

At the same time, I’ve been giving out my samplers here and there, so many thanks to the Tiger, the Valkyrie Knights (Sarah, Raven, Mintea, Avarielle, Lyn, J, Nicole, Julian), Valerie, Sarah-Mae, Kenny, Sean, and many others for your help and feedback on the sampler =)

Mar-Wattpad

And as a quick side note, two other shorts, Flesh & Foliage, and Repellant, are up on my Wattpad this month. Hope you enjoy reading them!

Coming next month…

April will be a busy month for me, but do check back for all these coming up:

  • Camp Nanowrimo! – Click here to check it out, like a more flexible version of Nanowrimo.
  • Tabletop Day!
  • Next-in-Reading posts
  • More Wattpad uploads
  • The rest of our Melbourne adventure posts!

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Book Bites: The Book Trail

Book Bites

After travelling with the Tiger, it seemed like we visited so many literary areas that I thought it warranted a mention in Book Bites itself. It’s not a comprehensive list, but I think it can make up a substantial Book Trail for those who are interested.

Adelaide

Adelaide PopUp Bookshop

The first bookshop we chanced upon on our first day in Australia!

It gave us a travelling-indie-bookshop vibe, so we thought it would be cool to take a look. Like many travelling shops we’ve seen, the décor was kept at the bare minimum, but they had quite a good range of contemporary and classic books.

Intriguing...

Intriguing…

Sparse, but simple

Sparse, but simple

Pop-Up!

Pop-Up!

Perusing their selection

Perusing their selection

Yeap, look them up =)

Yeap, look them up =)

What surprised me was the fact that they did, indeed, sell Pop-Up Books! And not those kinds we are used to as children, some of them had skillfully intricate designs that were interactive to the reader. So literally, a Pop-Up Book Store.

The Adelaide PopUp Bookshop is located at 50 Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000 (for now). For more information, click here.

Dymocks

I would go out on a limb here and say that this is as close as you can get to Kinokuniya in Australia. I have seen their Twitter a few times and they seem to be rather up and happening with Author sessions and the works.

Finally!

Finally!

Browsing with a peek from the POP! Vinyl Figures

Browsing with a peek from the POP! Vinyl Figures

We went here while going through Rundle Mall on our second day and ended up getting a few interesting postcards and a stuffed wombat (Many thanks to the Tiger on this!)

Dymocks is located at 135 Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000. For more information, click here.

Adelaide Writers’ Week

Needless to say, we were both rather amazed at the book tent and signing area at the Adelaide Writers’ Week. I loved how the volunteers would take time to arrange a featured section where writers who were having a panel that particular day in the middle of the tent, so buyers can have easier access.

Entrance to the book tent

Entrance to the book tent

The book tent, with all the books arranged by Author and with a middle table featuring books by the authors appearing that day.

The book tent, with all the books arranged by Author and with a middle table featuring books by the authors appearing that day.

It was also great to see how high the sales for the books were, and how the proceeds for the sales just go back to keeping the festival mostly free for the public.

The Adelaide Writers’ Week is held in conjunction with the Adelaide Festival. For more information, click here.

Melbourne

Hill of Content

The first shop we entered after lunch in Melbourne, attracting us with its intriguing façade. So imagine our joy when we found out it was a bookstore.

It caught our eye from across the street

It caught our eye from across the street

Entering...

Entering…

Grand.

Grand.

View, Draco-Malfoy-looking-down style ;)

View, Draco-Malfoy-looking-down style ;)

Two storeys were open for the public, with fiction and non-fiction on the upper floor and children’s, YA, and stationery or gifts on the ground floor. The dark mahogany gives an incredibly literary feel, with the same antique book scent wafting through the air. Great selection of books, and it shares a building with a publishing office, so it’s literary in and out.

Hill of Content is located at 86 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

The Book Grocer

I love the branch we went to because everything was $10 tops!

Like the Pop-Up Bookstore in Adelaide, decor was at its bare minimum. Yet, the shelves were stocked and organized well, with everything under $10 – including classics, graphic novels, and many others. The Tiger kind of went crazy with the graphic novels while I ended up getting something by a crime fic author I’ve not seen before. And Minority Report. (Dances)

To be honest, the "Book Sale" caught our eye. We nearly ran across the road getting to this place.

To be honest, the “Book Sale” caught our eye. We nearly ran across the road getting to this place.

Reminds me of Littered with Books, with their recommendations.

Reminds me of Littered with Books, with their recommendations.

How can you not love a Book Store which loves reading as much as we do?

How can you not love a Book Store which loves reading as much as we do?

The Book Grocer is located at 147–149 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

Reader’s Feast Bookstore

At this point, the Tiger tweeted – 5 hours in Melbourne and we’ve already been to three bookshops. Send help. (or something along those lines)

Reader’s Feast was huge and spacious. The high ceilings and elaborate lights reflecting against the Greco-Roman white within the shop made it look incredibly grand. Book range comparable to Dymocks and Kino, I loved their reading corners and the writer’s meet-and-greet corner that was specifically set aside.

Their staff were incredibly helpful as well, offering options after the Tiger’s request was found to not be in stock.

From the Collins Street Main Entrance

From the Collins Street Main Entrance

Yes.

Yes.

Equipped with writer's corner and all

Equipped with writer’s corner and all

Reader’s Feast Bookstore is located at 162 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

The Little Bookroom

A recommendation from our friend Choo, located on the rather happening DeGraves Street. The Little Bookroom, like its name, specializes in books for little ones.

Looking in...

Looking in…

I'd bring my children to this place.

I’d bring my children to this place.

Classic!

Classic!

For children's books and accessories =)

For children’s books and accessories =)

Mostly picture books, comics, and children’s stories, entering the shop felt like entering a whimsical world of literary goodness. What struck me the most were the parody books, local YA, and their kid-friendly classics – a great way to get children to start reading.

The Little Bookroom is located at 5 DeGraves Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

Magnation

Another recommendation from Choo, they specialize in specialty stationery and a huge selection of magazines.

What I liked about this place was not just the selection, but the reading areas and the organization of all the titles. I think Australia is one of the few countries where I still see companies advertising and having full stores for publications regularly (saw a commercial for a magazine at least a dozen times the whole time we were there).

ROWS AND ROWS!!!

ROWS AND ROWS!!!

Mr Men and Little Miss Egg Cups!

Mr Men and Little Miss Egg Cups!

Scrabble merch =) (We kinda had to stop ourselves)

Scrabble merch =) (We kinda had to stop ourselves)

Up to the second level and reading areas

Up to the second level and reading areas

Yeap =)

Yeap =)

I'm seriously in love with shops that do this. It's quite amazing.

I’m seriously in love with shops that do this. It’s quite amazing.

Mag Nation is located at 88 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

State Library of Victoria

I think any Book Trail will be incomplete without a visit to the library. Especially the State Library of Victoria.

Is this...

Is this…

...yes, it is!

…yes, it is!

Students playing some major chess outside the building

Students playing some major chess outside the building

One of the cute little displays they had in the library display areas

One of the cute little displays they had in the library display areas

You know it's original because it's missing an "E"

You know it’s original because it’s missing an “E”

Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature, and after visiting their library, it’s not difficult to see why. The commitment to designing and maintaining the State Library is highly commendable.

My favourite (and possibly the Tiger’s as well) area would definitely be the famed Reading Room. Not only does it look positively conducive for any form of work (thanks to the tons of natural light coming in from the high dome and windows), it feels like you stepped into the library of Prince Adam (Beast from Beauty and the Beast) or the Library of Congress.

Not visiting the State Library of Victoria while in Melbourne City is kind of like saying you haven’t been to Melbourne City. Well, at least in my book.

We were wondering what this seat was actually for.

We were wondering what this seat was actually for.

View from the second level

View from the second level

Gorgeous view from the top level

Gorgeous view from the top level

The State Library of Victoria is located at 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

City Basement Books

It was funny how we chanced upon this place because Jun Lynn, a friend of the Tiger, sent us a photo of this store as one of the places she would recommend us to go take a look at.

Down the stairs of wonder...

Down the stairs of wonder…

And into this quaint collection.

And into this quaint collection.

Look them up!

Look them up!

It’s a quaint little shop, inconspicuously located along Flinders’ Street.

Descending down the stairs, it gives a rather Ollivander’s feel, with books stacked almost from floor to ceiling. Despite the somewhat messy first glance, this place is actually well-stocked and well-organized. Sections and genres were clearly labelled with books placed in their serials and authors.

Generally, you could find secondhand books in great condition, together with the possible rare find of long-discontinued or out-of-print books.

City Basement Books is located at 342 Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. For more information, click here.

There were many other bookstores we gave a miss to while we were in the city, mostly for the interest of time and travel. If you’ve visited any interesting bookstores, do feel free to share them in the comments!

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Decode: Adventure: Adelaide Day #3

Decode Adventure

Considering how we ended up sleeping in the past two mornings, the Tiger and I got up relatively early today to take a walk in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. (Thank goodness we went that day though, they were closing the next day for WOMADelaide)

It was a rather cool morning, early on a Sunday, so it was nice to have the gardens almost to ourselves. Walking through the tropical greenhouse, herbal gardens, and succulent fields, we settled in an interesting-looking shelter (built around a tree) so that the Tiger can draw and I was able to read.

The entrance to the Botanic Gardens

The entrance to the Botanic Gardens

Into the tropical greenhouse...

Into the tropical greenhouse…

Something caught the Tiger's attention!

Something caught the Tiger’s attention!

Just this alcove and mini-waterfall.

Just this alcove and mini-waterfall.

The arid gardens

The arid gardens

It's such a nice scene to just look at

It’s such a nice scene to just look at

For herbs and such...

For herbs and such…

Where we took a quick stop

Where we took a quick stop

Do you see who I see?

Do you see who I see?

The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide is located at North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000. To find out more about them, click here.

I think this day also marked the time of our trip where every future day in Australia involved us meeting a friend of either of us.

We met the Tiger’s friend, Elizabeth, at The Original Pancake Kitchen for lunch. The place was incredibly crowded but needless to say, I missed this place immensely.

The cabin-feel of the place stretches through the restaurant itself, enveloping the cozy couch booth seats and cedar-coloured wooden chairs and tables peppered through the place. Chalkboard writing, black-and-white framed photographs, and mini jukeboxes drilled into the walls completed the atmosphere pretty well.

Seated at a table all the way in during this crowded Sunday

Seated at a table all the way in during this crowded Sunday

I still love their homey decor

I still love their homey decor

JUKEBOX!

JUKEBOX!

We ordered a Canadian Feast – a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with tomatoes, two sunny-side ups, Canadian bacon, whipped butter, and maple syrup. Like the last time my mom and I visited, I loved how they gave you a generous jug of maple syrup before serving you your dishes. We ordered a Blueberry stack for dessert as well, served in a dessert bowl to hold the ice cream drippings.

Thick and fluffy, the pancakes did not disappoint, the savour of the buttermilk complementing the nutty sweetness of the maple syrup and pancake batter itself. The voluminous cakes also served as a delicious, buttery base for the thick-cut, meaty bacon and bouncy egg, holding this breakfast-related taste package together, slathered with butter and syrup.

Our Canadian Feast!

Our Canadian Feast!

Like the Canadian Feast, the dessert pancakes were a treat – the blueberry tartness cutting through the thick, rich pancake, going together with the smooth vanilla ice cream buried somewhere underneath the compote. Being a big fan of blueberries, the Tiger was satisfied (He kind of attacked the dessert before I could take a photo. LOL!).

The Original Pancake Kitchen is open 24/7 and is located at 13 Gilbert Place, Adelaide SA 5000. For more information on them, click here.

The Original Pancake Kitchen

The Original Pancake Kitchen

Post-lunch was another walk to the South Australian Museum, where we spent a better half of the afternoon. To find out more about what we thought, click here for a more detailed Museum Escapades post.

We made our way back to the Adelaide Festival Centre, this time to attend Alison Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” panel under “Comics Can Do Anything”. To get a more detailed post on the session, check out my Book Bites post here.

Enter...

Enter…

Cafe Brunelli =)

Cafe Brunelli =)

Alison and Sean (@SeanBlogonaut) =). Great time catching up with them!

Alison and Sean (@SeanBlogonaut) =). Great time catching up with them!

Then, we had a great dinner catch up with Sean (the Bookonaut) and his wife, Alison. Upon his recommendation, we made our way down to Rundle Street, where we met them at Café Brunelli’s, an Italian restaurant with awesome pizza.

Sharing our order, the Tiger and I got a Mushroom Prosciutto regular (10-inches) and a Prawn Salad. To describe our surprise of the arriving food in the most effective way possible, let me put it this way – Sean and Alison ordered a similar order, and we had no space for anything else on our table.

Our mushroom prosciutto out front and Sean and Alison's margherita at the back

Our mushroom prosciutto out front and Sean and Alison’s margherita at the back

Our crispy prawn and rocket salad =)

Our crispy prawn and rocket salad =)

Like I’ve mentioned in my post for Day #1, many people underestimate the importance of fresh ingredients. The mushrooms, in this case, gave a firm crunch, its fresh nuttiness balanced against the salty smoothness of the prosciutto, the wood-oven-baked crust serving as a substantial base for the toppings.

Similar to the mushrooms, the rocket salad base maintained its fresh peppery taste, great against the briny vinaigrette dressing and the crunchy prawns. Filled to the brim, the both of us could barely finish all that food.

Apart from the food, indoor seating was spacious and the atmosphere reminded me of an open deli you may go for sandwiches and canteen-style serves. Sean, Alison, and the two of us had a great time catching up on the Adelaide Festival, the urban environment of Singapore, and our creative work in general. It was a good place to generally just sit and catch up.

Café Brunelli’s is located at 187 Rundle Street, Adelaide SA 5000. To find out more about them, click here.

And I shall end my Adelaide posts with one of my favourite Adelaide landmarks - the Rundle Mall pigs =)

And I shall end my Adelaide posts with one of my favourite Adelaide landmarks – the Rundle Mall pigs =)

And as this sun sets, that’s pretty much it for Adelaide for us! Stay tuned next week as we go from Adelaide to Melbourne in this Australian adventure =).

P/S – Follow these posts with the tag “adelaide-melbourne adventure 2014”!

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Next-in-Reading #10: Inheritance

Next in Reading

Title: Inheritance (Hopeless, Maine)
Author: Tom & Nimue Brown
Year: 2013
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

“Do you think anyone ever comes back?”

Been a fan since their first book.

Been a fan since their first book.

Orphaned at a young age, Salamandra is a witch trying to come to terms with her powers ­­and make sense of her environment. Sequel of the first Hopeless, Maine series, she finds out that she may not be the only living member of her family after all. At the same time, her good friend, Owen, feels powerless against his mother’s doctor, who gives out an undeniable sinister feeling.

Character(s)

Salamandra, Closet Witch

Although she verbalizes her hate for her absent parents, she is rather sentimental. Upon learning of a grandfather, she is quick to make her way to look for him. Her insistence to stay by him despite Owen’s vehement doubts (“He’s mad.”).

It can also be suggested that Salamandra is oppressed by her past, and is looking for an outlet to break free. Finding freedom in her magic, Owen, and her grandfather, she clings onto them as a way out from the orphanage, away from what she would have been raised up to be.

Owen, Growing Pains

Going from a figure of wisdom in the first book, it seems like the roles of him and Salamandra have been swapped. He becomes insecure, letting his worries about his mother (and her doctor) consume him. It can also be said that Owen has a certain level of closeness to his mother, juxtaposed against the conflict he has with his father’s strictness.

Like Salamandra, Owen looks to run away from everything not in his control, suggesting that he is rather strict on himself as well – a Type A personality.

Theme(s)

Inner Struggles…

Hopeless is an epicentre of powerful clans – an underbrewing of politics and turmoil under its thinly-veiled, twisted, dark exterior. Its environment is personified through Salamandra and Owen’s struggles – impenetrable except through the medium of magic.

Family…

Two faces of familial ties are shown in this book.

Familial disgrace is rampant – how Salamandra wants nothing to do with her parents due to their mistreatment of her and her brother. Owen, ashamed that he is unable to help his mother, wants to do nothing else except to run from his relatives, who are either disgracefully sheepish or care more about the family name than they do with human lives.

However, there is a glimmer of hope, represented by the lighthouse manned by Salamandra’s grandfather, which also happens to be the gateway out of the darkness. Within the lighthouse, Salamandra finds her only family and does her act of sacrifice and love to both her grandfather and Owen – sacrificing her own passage and happiness so that they could be.

Style & Structure

The Hopeless, Maine series is told in a form of a graphic novel – the visuals used to tell or hint their moods and words. The stills of subtle glances and dark shading sufficiently represent the place and story well. The background write-ups also give a good hint on what is to come later.

To find out more about the Hopeless Maine series, or what Tom & Nimue Brown are up to, click here.

In the meantime

Hmmm...?

Hmmm…?

And as always, I’ll see you all next week!

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Museum Escapades: South Australian Museum

Museum Escapades

One of the many things both the Tiger and I like to do overseas would probably be to visit a museum. So while we were waiting for Alison Bechdel’s session to start, we decided to go to the South Australian Museum for a look-around.

Welcome to the South Australian Museum

Welcome to the South Australian Museum

As an animated dinosaur greets you

As an animated dinosaur greets you

And a dinosaur skeleton checks your bags.

And a dinosaur skeleton checks your bags.

The Museum Shop welcomes you too

The Museum Shop welcomes you too

As does this sperm whale skull

As does this sperm whale skull. I won’t lie, it’s incredibly mind blowing

Greeted with a collection of sperm whale skulls and marine animal skeletons, we were in awe at the magnificence of the exhibits. (Let me put it this way, one of the sperm whale skulls we saw spanned beyond the entire length of the museum café)

And while the South Australian Museum had many galleries you could go through (I would reckon spending at least a single, solid day if you would like to see everything in every gallery), I decided that this post will be more focused on this particular approach the museum takes that struck a chord with me – accessibility.

A makeshift worktable

A makeshift worktable

Researchers at work

Researchers at work

Can you find fine bones in these?

Can you find fine bones in these?

Apart from the fact that the museum is free for tourists and citizens alike (with the exceptions of featured or paid exhibitions), there are regular free tours to introduce and re-introduce visitors to the many aspects of the museum. Don’t know where to start? The guide can help you.

What I also liked was how some backroom work gets posted to the front lines. While we were there, there were a few researchers at the main staircase foyer, working on a few samples and getting people (especially children) involved in finding and identifying mini bones caught in ground samples. As explained by one of the researchers there, they were studying the kinds of animals that used to live around the deserts of Western Australia.

Polar Bear! (In the Mammals of the World section)

Polar Bear! (In the Mammals of the World section)

MOOSE!

MOOSE!

I just had to. LOL.

I just had to. LOL.

Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art

Water craft from Aboriginal tribes

Water craft from Aboriginal tribes

Under the sea...

Under the sea…

Model huts typically found in tribal South Pacific islands

Model huts typically found in tribal South Pacific islands

This is not a model, this is actually a mask

This is not a model, this is actually a mask

Me, "Cute!!". The Tiger, "They're dead." PFFT.

Me, “Cute!!”. The Tiger, “They’re dead.” PFFT.

Children and the interactive archaeological dig

Children and the interactive archaeological dig

Moving to the higher levels of the museum, there was a lab-like room, adequately-lit and with cupboards and shelves filled with various artefacts. And towards the corner of the room, there was a counter with a researcher behind it, clicking away on the computer or studying some sample.

What was really cool about this was that the South Australian Museum does encourage people to bring photographs or samples of insects, rocks, or artefacts for analysis. While the Tiger and I were there, a lady went up and asked for help in identifying a spider they found in their garden.

So there was some form of knowledge sharing and interaction, such that both parties learnt more.

Hmmm...?

Hmmm…?

I see!

I see!

For visitors to look through the microscope.

For visitors to look through the microscope.

Various artefacts found by the community.

Various artefacts found by the community.

Specimens at the counter.

Specimens at the counter.

And lastly, the Tiger and I were presented with a pleasant surprise towards the end of our visit.

While in the museum itself, we heard an announcement about a Professor giving a talk at the front foyer. As we were rather pressed for time, we did not really bother with it. However, when we got to the front foyer, the talk the Professor was supposed to give turned out to be a sing-and-dance session for the kids to learn about dinosaurs (led by the Professor).

It was then when the Tiger mentioned about how it was quite nice that the Professors were so willing to share knowledge with others – through any form of means, as far as we could see.

I don't know about you, but this is amazing, regardless.

I don’t know about you, but this is amazing, regardless.

Like I’ve said before, the Museum is not only a place where exhibits are placed, nice and polished, for people to go “Ooooh” and “Aaaah” over. It’s where knowledge is shared, it’s where stories are told. And what is the soul of humanity but a plethora of knowledge and stories?

So that’s the South Australian Museum for us!

The South Australian Museum is located at North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000. Click here for more information. General entry is free, though there will be ticket prices for featured exhibitions.

P/S – Track our Australian adventure with the tag, “adelaide-melbourne adventure 2014”!

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Book Bites: “Dykes to Watch Out For” featuring Alison Bechdel

Book Bites

One of the featured highlights of the Adelaide Writers’ Week was the group of panels done under the Sunday feature event – Comics Can Do Anything. Featuring creators like Mandy Ord and Sutu, the Tiger and I went to the last panel of the day, “Dykes to Watch Out For”, featuring Alison Bechdel.

As it says...

As it says…

Literally off the plane and into the Festival Centre, Bechdel gave us a glimpse into her journey as a cartoonist. With both her parents highly creative and passionate, she wrote and drew her first two books, “Fun Home” and “Are You My Mother?” based her experiences with her parents.

She continued to share her story motivations – about how she wanted to tell stories about regular women as women and people – and her family’s reaction to her publications.

Alison Bechdel at the stand, giving her presentation

Alison Bechdel at the stand, giving her presentation

It was an interesting panel, especially when she mentioned how genuinely surprised she was when a theatre company in the US produced a musical based on “Fun Home”.

It was weird to see someone else play me in my younger years.

Moving on to the Q&A, she also spoke about her work process, which was useful and garnered a few understanding nods from the Tiger. I thought it was another good glimpse into the world of creating comics.

So after the panel itself, we got her to autograph one of the books the Tiger got at the book tent. At the same time, he gave her some of his comics and she thought they were rather interesting so that was all good.

After signing and adding a little sketch to the Tiger's book

After signing and adding a little sketch to the Tiger’s book.

For more information on Alison Bechdel and what she does, click here. I’m now interested to see what “Fun Home: The Musical” looks like.

P/S – If you would like to track posts about our Australia trip, search for the tag “adelaide-melbourne adventure 2014”.

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