Next-in-Reading #42: Maxine, Aoki, Beto & Me

Next in Reading

Title: Maxine, Aoki, Beto & Me
Author: Wena Poon
Year: 2013
Publisher: Self-Published

“That’s the thing, zai zai, life doesn’t have a point! You find the point! Find the point!” – Laura, The Distance Between Two Points

Architects and their works all over the world. Village racers in rural Japan. A conversation between a matador and the monstrocity from the demonic depths of mythology. All these situations come alive in Wena Poon’s newest collection of stories, titled, “Maxine, Aoki, Beto & Me.”

The stories set in various parts of the world and accompanied by photographs taken during Wena’s travels by the author herself. Most of the photos depicting the representation Wena deems most apt for that particular anecdote.

13 stories in, I decided to pick 3 which struck me the most.

Maxine, Aoki, Beto & Me, the namesake of the collection, tells a great tale of globalization and the seemingly connected world we live in now. Centered on Victor Cheung, a playboy fashion photographer, he finds himself in a tangled web of global supply when Maxine (his Michelin star chef grandmother) phones him in crisis. Her global supply chain of rice (where Aoki and Beto come in), had been disrupted. And this time, Victor traverses countries for a different reason, with a different sense of identity.

Dialogue Between Novillera and Minotaur was in the Top 5 Shortlist for the Prix Hemingway 2011 in France. Incorporating the mythical, fantastical element into this short story, it references one of my favourites among her works – Alex y Robert. On top of the fact that her career as a matador is largely ignored, Alejandra Herrera battles both reality and tries to escape the labyrinth of her own mind.

The Mayor of Akahashi talks about the struggle to maintain existence and the ironic need for connectivity and commercialization to somehow make it work. The young mayor of a small village around Tokyo, at risk of merging into historical non-existence, finds his struggle alleviated with the help of global connectivity and mass production.

While most of the stories vary in topic and location, Wena manages to weave these stories and position them in such a way that the stories flow. Readers will find themselves travelling East to West to East again with minimal disruptions. Also, if you have read any of her previous works, you’ll appreciate her insertion of certain references.

Wena Poon does amazing reading performances, especially with works like Maxine, Aoki, Beto & Me, and The Adventures of Snow Fox & Sword Girl. For more information on Wena and her works, click here.

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Update [April 2015]

Featured Posts

I have no idea where April went, which is a good and bad thing. While I’ve been working on my MAP Novel and finalizing a few things for ‘Escape from Reality’, I am grateful that I was still able to head out and enjoy myself, especially with International Tabletop Day. As such, here are my favourite posts for the month:

Writer-y Endeavours

For those of you who have read it, I posted something on Eternal Sights; Spotted Mind and said that I will be taking a break from regular Muse Moment or Wattpad uploads so that I can concentrate more on my major projects.

I still am reworking my novel (almost done with pre-first draft pass!) in time for the next MAP meetup so I’m looking forward to that. The shortlist for Escape from Reality should be up soon too! For now, please enjoy the following posts:

Coming up soon!

  • The shortlist for “Escape from Reality”
  • Prep and stuff for the Comic Art Festival, Kuala Lumpur
  • Massive editing of stuff!
  • More Mentor Access Project reworking and progress!
  • …at the moment, it’s going to be me getting as much as I can done.

And I will see you in May!

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Blanket Fortress Play: International Tabletop Day

Blanket Fortress Play

I was very close to calling this year’s International Tabletop Day, Let’s Play Antoine Bauza Games Like Crazy Day. Had I brought Takenoko instead of Zombie Dice and Elder Sign to our gathering, it might have become just that.

This year’s crew included myself, the Tiger, Val, Weiman, and a few newfound players at a Singapore Boardgames gathering in one of our Community Centres. Combining our games with the common pool, the Tiger and I managed to play a total of nine (9) board games this year, so here are some awesome moments from each game:


To kick things off...
To kick things off…

Weiman’s first attempt at playing Gloom was met with a whole lot of laughs. While we hacked away at our own family members and made everyone else get married (there were A LOT of weddings in this game), first game of the day went to Val.

Zombie Dice

This round was hilarious because many of us got to a great start, only to get shot out three times in single throws during the first round. Consecutively. The rolls got increasingly more cautious and eventually went to the Tiger.


We played two games of Fluxx after seeing Weiman win the first game with her first Keeper card. The second game was longer, with the Tiger and Val changing rules and goals as quickly as they can. In the end, the second game of Fluxx went to no one because we wanted to play Elder Sign before lunch.

Elder Sign

On the verge of insanity...
On the verge of insanity…

We started with ATROCIOUS rolls. We were trying to stop an Elder God with a Doom Track of 10 and an Elder Sign requirement of 12. By the time the Doom Track read 8, we were only at 3 Elder Signs and were almost on the verge of giving up because we were hungry. It was a total phoenix moment when we started getting awesome rooms which rewarded a whole lot of Elder Signs and resulted in a Team Win.

Smash Up

We played Smash Up right after our pizza lunch, which really made us happy that we got to fulfill the “cliché” of Pizza and Games. It was Val’s first play and she held her own very well with her Ninja-Dino deck, trumped the Tiger’s Zombie-Plants (Ehehehe) deck, Weiman’s Steampunk-Ghost deck, and my Pirate-Bear Calvary deck.

King of Tokyo

After a full lunch and a bit of a break watching other people play the first round of Dead of Winter, the Tiger and I (Weiman and Val had to go off) landed ourselves with another random group of players with King of Tokyo (5-player game). One of our power punchers, Irene, won both games with Cyber Bunny. (Yes, she punched everyone so much, everyone wanted to go into Tokyo with her to avoid damage)


Down the East Ocean Route...
Down the East Ocean Route…

We decided to slow the pace with a game of Tokaido, one of the boardgames I wanted to play since I watched it on Tabletop. The Tiger loved the artwork and it was a relaxing change of pace, especially when you had cute characters and so many choices to make while travelling from Kyoto to Edo. Irene won this game as well.


Yeap, back-facing
Yeap, back-facing

We continued the Bauza chain (it would have been a total Bauza chain if we played the Takenoko in the common pool) with cooperative game Hanabi, where I realised how uncomfortable I can get if I don’t know what my cards are. There’s no technical win stage for this game, but we managed to score 20 out of the 25 maximum points, that’s a great display of fireworks, if you’d ask me!


One of the most interesting games I've played so far this year
One of the most interesting games I’ve played so far this year

If you are a fan of Dominion and Scrabble, this is a pretty cool game. Essentially a deck-building game, you’re building your deck to form words which will give you enough currency to buy better letters or letter combinations. Like Dominion, you Act (form words with the letters in your hand), Buy (each letter has a value), and Clean-up. The winner of this game made the word ‘Marzipan’ in the funniest way possible – Raj.

So yes, that was an incredibly long post, like it was an incredibly long list of games for the day. Regardless, we all had fun, and I was both happy and thankful that we got to play so many games (regular or new). Onwards to the next International Tabletop Day!

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Museum Escapades: The Affordable Art Fair Singapore

Museum Escapades

It has been a while since I went to either a museum or an exhibition. So, when Val invited me to head to the Affordable Art Fair with her, I was ready to give it a shot.

Browsing, browsing...
Browsing, browsing…

Spanning two storeys of the F1 Building, the Affordable Art Fair doubles as a fine art exhibition or convention and an art fair where you could buy certain pieces of art for relatively affordable prices. 74  galleries from places like Singapore, Japan, The Netherlands, and the United States, among many others were exhibiting. And unlike a usual Art Gallery where you are left in silence most of the time, there were representatives in every booth explaining and introducing artists to you.

Of the many pieces we saw, these were the few artists who caught my eye…

Sophie Derrick, under Degree Art Gallery, United Kingdom

Lady really likes the broad, colourful strokes!
Lady really likes the broad, colourful strokes!

The first collection I saw upon entering the art fair, Derrick’s colours already stood out, only to be enhanced with the bold strokes and distinct textures from the paints. Zooming in to her models, her moves complementing each expression, punching the piece from concept to canvas to viewer. Find out more about her art here.

Rone, under Otomys, Singapore

With piercing glares...
With piercing glares…

The works of this mural artist from Melbourne caught my eye with his model’s fierce expressions and the interesting use of mixed media to bring out the mood of the piece. Both his pieces could pierce with a glare, each piece carrying the soul of the expression. Commissioned to paint murals all over the world, Rone is due to visit Singapore sometime soon. Find out more about his art here.

Shay Peled, under Tzuki Art, Israel

The music from his heart.
The music from his heart.

What attracted me to Tzuki’s works was the friendliness and brightness of it all. Each installation piece is painted with car paint for maximum colour richness and galvanized to last and to endure handling. Apart from the clever colour compositions, each piece was relatable, yet light-hearted and fun to view. I especially liked his collection of flowers and musical instruments. Find out more about Tzuki Art here.

Jordi Pinto, under Barnadas Huang, Singapore

Panel art pieces by Jordi Pinto
Panel art pieces by Jordi Pinto

I am a huge fan of rich, complementary colours and smooth shading. When I saw Pinto’s work, it reminded me of children’s picture books and fun stories to delight your kids with before they go to bed. Mixing his bird’s eye view and various fantastical elements, Pinto’s work is easy on the eye and easy to relate to. Find out more about his art here.

There were definitely way more outstanding artists than who I’ve mentioned here, these artists were just the ones which stuck in my head for the longest time after I left the fair. It was a great platform for artists, galleries, and buyers, with many representatives signing up enthusiasts for further exhibitions featuring favourite artists. The art pieces were also able to hold their own – colours or collage on canvas or aluminum, sculptures, installations, etc…

Despite having to cover so much in that limited amount of time the both of us had, Val and I were still able to find pieces we really liked and could relate to. Most of the pieces mentioned here were priced rather well too – none of the pieces we liked went over five figures, although it will be a while before either of us decides to purchase something for the moment.

This was the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore for Spring 2015. The next fair held here will happen in November (when Val and I head to Hong Kong!). To find out more about how you can go soak in the atmosphere and appreciate the art, click here.

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Book Bites: Comic Week @ Books Actually

Book Bites

Today’s session is brought to you by the word, “Transformers!”

The Gathering of Guessers
The Gathering of Guessers

To be honest, this was a great start to the International Tabletop Day weekend. Instead of having a panel where a few artists would gather and talk about their work or their processes, Kenny and his team came up with the awesome idea of putting the artists in the spotlight with a game of Pictionary.

Val, Weiman, Raven, and I were there to support the Tiger as one of the featured artists. And thus, we became guessers among the three teams: Red Wine, Salmon Pink, Green Holly.


Red Team artists Gene and Eva getting ready for a shot.
Red Team artists Gene and Eva getting ready for a shot.

Val and Weiman got into that team together, guessing the prompts drawn by Gene, Evacomics, and Gwee. Apart from Gene’s antics, and Eva’s enthusiasm, it was hilarious to see Gwee bring the “How to play Pictionary” meme to life:

  • Draw something for people to guess.
  • Point at the same thing when people can’t guess it.
  • Point harder when they still can’t guess it.

The only difference was how Gwee introduced the foot of the drawing board to his own foot.


Troy in the middle of pictioneering.
Troy in the middle of pictioneering.

The team of guessers for Koh Hong Teng, Drewscape, and Troy Chin had to go first since the artists for the Red Wine team were not ready as yet. Regardless, they did a great job gearing everyone up and feeding the atmosphere for everyone.

This was also when the “Transformers!” catchphrase came about – Kenny would yell “Transformers!” the moment Renee announced a ‘movie’ category.

Everyone caught on.

Soon it was Kenny, Gene, the Tiger, myself, or just anyone at random yelling out “Transformers!!” whenever Renee went, “Category: Movie!”


The Tiger raising an eyebrow at his prompt
The Tiger raising an eyebrow at his prompt

Raven and I were the guessers for this team, with our artists being – the Tiger (Max Loh, hehehehe), Xiao Yan, and Lim Cheng Tju. The Tiger went through his prompts so fast, he still had half a minute left to go over the prompts he missed. Xiao Yan’s drawings were really amazing. And Cheng Tju, despite his protests of him not being able to draw, still managed to get some points in.

Especially when he drew someone with a cat and I went, “KENNY!!!”

To be frank, a lot of the prompts were harder than expected, which resulted in all the funny antics we had through the session. Execution was all over the place, but we all had fun and many people ended up buying books so the event really worked out well.

Before I end my post, however, I’d just like to raise this note: Books Actually has not only been a great avenue for writers and readers to come together, but also a home for all these creative ideas for creators from all mediums and walks of life.

Many thanks to Kenny, Renee, Angelin, and the team for putting this event together, and we look forward to many more!

The guest artists's major selfie as orchestrated by Gene. LOL.
The guest artists’s major selfie as orchestrated by Gene. LOL.

To support Books Actually and the many local writers they feature, click here.

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Eternal Sights; Spotted Mind: Taking a Break

Eternal SightsNot taking a break from whatever I’m doing entirely, but taking a break from side posts like my uploads on Wattpad. I have not been either on time or uploading things altogether for one simple reason – I have neither idea nor time.

The year started out exciting and incredibly busy – 2 major literary projects and a few trips. Work is work, but thus far, everything has been okay at best. Despite being able to cope relatively okay, I have been feeling stretched to the point of losing both creative energy and ideas to do free writing or creating.

Therefore, I decided to trim everything down to the minimum and focus on the 2 major projects for the moment. Aside from balancing work, social life, family, writing, and other creative stuff, I’m going to suspend what I can so that I can enjoy the things I enjoy without worrying about looming deadlines or feeling guilty if I spend one weekend becoming a potato instead of churning a new story after forcing some inkling of an idea while burning the midnight oil.

That being said, I will be suspending Muse Moment until I regain time or energy for writing spurts which come close to coherent sentences (unlike this one). The rest of the sections will still see posts here and there, so you can still come in and read about the foodie, crafty, gamey, adverturey, and literary stuff that goes on.

Maybe I might sneak in a bit of Muse Moment here and there, but like I said – I really want to enjoy what I’m doing at the moment. And right now, there’s just too many self-imposed expectations, compartmentalisation, and day job fatigue to do so right now.

Thank you all for reading and see you at my next post!

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Next-in-Reading #41: RunHideSeek

Next in Reading

Title: RunHideSeek – The 1st Two Books of the Trilogy
Author: Gabby Tye
Year: 2013 & 2014
Bubbly Books

What would you do when you wake up, barefoot, aching, with mud caking your jeans, and you have no idea where you are, or what your name is? When Zee woke up in the midst of a marauding pack of teenagers an children, she remembered nothing, until her old gang came back with her history – a history of being Kayla.

The RunHideSeek series is a dystopian trilogy set in future Singapore, where disease has ravaged the world, the animals and plants are all dead, and the people are running out of food. Told through the eyes of Zee/Kayla, a fifteen year old cast out of the safe camp, the story tells of her journey to find out why she was sent out in the first place. And why soldiers from the camp are after her.

Fast-paced and action-packed, Tye has managed to craft the story into a page turner with her short sentences and visual action scenes. The design of the book helps bring the reader into the scenes, the accents and paper melding perfectly into this young adult dystopian environment. I would imagine Zee/Kayla finding a book like this while on the run.

Setting the story in a middle of a group of teenagers may not be unique in young adult circles, but Tye does a good job in localizing certain aspects of Singaporeanness without going overboard. Fighting zombies with children and teenagers? Sure. Fighting zombies with children and teenagers with no hope of finding the firearms you could somehow so easily get in stories like ‘Warm Bodies’ and ‘The Hunger Games’? I have only seen another novelist presenting a setting like this – Nicholas Yong (Land of the Meat Munchers).

The only thing which gets me in this book is how it sounds better than it reads. Quick enough to get through, the novels give you a good grasp of the story within a relatively short period of time. While the story has good-enough standing, words like “Juuuust” appearing in the book can set you off a little. Despite all that, I believe this trilogy will make an entertaining podcast series.

A great read if you would like something entertaining and relatively quick to get through, the RunHideSeek trilogy is by Gabby Tye, and published by Bubbly Books. Seek is due to be out this year, so you can find out more about the trilogy here.

And I’ll see you next week!

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