Friday, February 27, 2015

CNY Reunion of the Chiam Clan

There's a distinct significance to the recent Chinese New Year celebrations in the year of the Ram, Goat, Ewe, Sheep or whatever that floats your boat; for the Chiam family. And that is the fascinating discovery of my father's long lost siblings who came by for a CNY visit on the third day of the festivities. With all of my dad's younger siblings making an appearance, it wasn't really shocking to see that I have indeed quite a few more... oh wait a tick, a whole lot more cousins to add to the count from the ones off my maternal's side. And one thing that is for sure, I could finally discover for myself where most of my facial features come from, not that I don't already know for decades past. And as this group of my extended family comes from my father's side, I would let you do the math as to who my doppelgänger is right at the picture below.

It was a blissful-cum-happiness feeling as emotions rides high for my parents, particularly for my father who is the eldest sibling. This could be due to the circumstantial fact that contacts have been lost for so many decades down the drain that a reunion like this, should be pertinent and, without a surprising doubt, brought a few tears to film the already rheumy eyes. But the somber atmosphere wouldn't last that long as the joy of being able to see each other again beats the crap out of the infinitesimal gloomy episode. And as for me? Well... I'm just as glad to witness whatever that makes both my parents happy. That's something that nothing in this world could be purchased with monetary values or exchanged with creditable income. May reunions such as this continues on and not only during festive seasons but on the outset of things whenever there is time.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Stephen King

One of King's largest short story collections prior to the turn of the century, this marks him out as one who is truly capable and prolific in which he pens out a varying degree of marvellous novellas which are not only gripping in its tales but nevertheless horrific in all nature. There are a couple of his short stories here that hits the mark right at the sweet spot while there are others that are just pure misses. Those latter, are the ones that could very well remain unpublished. Yet, King did not disappoint. This is one serious collection and it took me nearly a week to complete the whole series. This wasn't attributed to my derelict behaviour during the festive season nor was it due to undisciplined tardiness. It was just due to the convoluted maze of a foundation that got me off-kilter in most aspects.


Dolan's Cadillac 5/5 --> one that thrills right to the core, a good story opener into this 800 over page short story collection.

The End of the Whole Mess 4/5 --> what truly happens when a smarty pants discover the vial of cure against the world's evil and attempts to rectify the matter in a global scale.

Suffer the Little Children 5/5 --> the reason why we have resident psychologists and referral psychiatrists in schools, hostels, institutions and certain accredited workplace.

The Night Flier 5/5 --> the flying vampire takes a different cut of seeking out and slicing its' victim and draws blood.

Popsy 4/5 --> I'd like to think that the night flier has a huge role in playing this short tale of his purported grandson being kidnapped as part of a large conspiracy ring of human trafficking.

It Grows on You 2/5 --> this is one odd story that didn't quite hit the mark, but nevertheless, intriguing in its' own way; when a local inhabitant becomes a victim of the house owner and dies under gruesome adventure, a new outcropping of the local house starts to build itself as though to mark a headstone of souvenir of the recent dead.

Chattery Teeth 5/5 --> I particularly like this one, it defines the partnership between a lonesome character who has been traumatised through robbery by hitchhikers and how he comes to term with a toy chattery teeth that has a cannibalistic tendency to protect its' new owner.

Dedication 4/5 --> this is one sickly and disgusting piece of work that only King could yarn it up into an intriguing masterpiece.

The Moving Finger 4/5 --> when you go crazy, you go all the way mad and an episode of psychosis is all that is needed for one to go cuckoo all over. This gruesome tale is not for everyone and coupled this with the Night Flier, I believe you'd be regurgitating your last meal soon enough.

Sneakers 4/5 --> if this won't get you started to check under every toilet cubicle's door each time you hit the John's then I suppose you're either illiterate enough to translate the true meaning of horror.

You Know They Got a Hell of a Band 5/5 --> I got goosebumps with this one and it sums up literally everything about how a married couple should react when a wife calls a decision that would prove vital in saving your behind. Their intuition is proved to be top-notch in this one. My hair was standing right on ends as the couple soon discovered the genuine realms of their newly found dilemma.

Home Delivery 3/5 --> King's take on zombies though if given a chance, he should be allowed to protract this short story into a full-length novel somehow later on as he's got this general tinge of idea that he could go far with this one.

Rainy Season 5/5 --> this is pretty ugly as it is disgusting and if you're ascairt of reptiles or amphibians particularly frogs and toads, it do you good to give this one a wide berth.

My Pretty Pony 2/5 --> the local parlance and burg talk throw this one off for me. I couldn't well understand most of the conversation between the grandfather and the grandson though I could quite catch a few glimmer of hopefuls to make up the big picture.

Sorry, Right Number 5/5 --> eerie, but a wasted chance, one story that combines both the present and the future/past depending on how you look at it.

The Ten O' Clock People 4/5 --> another zombie invasion? Somehow, this one developed farther on with a better solid plot that ended up with a massacre of distinct proportion. One could have hoped for more drastic circumstances but this one should suffice considering the nature of the written work.

Crouch End 5/5 --> another creepy affair where a couple got lost in a dimension of epic proportion. Towns, buildings, shops, local folks and streets take on a evolutionary change as the couple finds themselves walking into the lair of a very disturbed species that feeds on the flesh of humans.

The House on Maple Street 5/5 --> this story isn't much of a scare, but it's a good way to measure what abusive husband should be treated towards the very end of the story. If you'd ask me, I'd say he deserves every single bit of what happens to the stepfather.

The Fifth Quarter 3/5 --> a band of robbers, a treasure map, a collusion of two out of four original thieving gang each with a portion of the map with the end result of a bloodbath that goes every which way in order to regain the full treasure for oneself. A story of vengeance, greed and cowardice when it comes to terms.

The Doctor's Case 4/5 --> King takes a chance at recreating a small piece of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous work. It wasn't SACD, but nevertheless the nature of deductive work was pleasant enough to yield a satisfying relief for the audience.

Umney's Last Case 4/5 --> when an author meets his own novel's private detective character and attempts to switch position with the latter. The conversation held was in the mind of the author but that surrealistic nature of the rendezvous and the events that leads right up to it was a mixture of confusion that led to revelation in an utmost convincing way.

Head Down 5/5 --> an utterly bravado narration of a minor Little Leaguers' baseball team that turns the odds against the dark horses.

Brooklyn August 2/5 --> a select poem that is dedicated to the game of baseball and the building (now demolished) that holds the game in one select town in the USA.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Four Past Midnight, Stephen King

Of the four novellas, I preferred Secret Window, Secret Garden to the others for its' unexpected twist towards the end although the opinion might have been slightly biased based on my faint recollection of watching the movie about a decade back. The Langoliers came right near off the charts in its attempt in provoking a sense of anticipation while the Sun Dog and the Library Policeman fared pretty well in the horrific realms of scaring the crap right out of ya. But despite the fear instilled upon the readers right from the start and throughout the build-up, the latter two's ending was quite of an upset.

Nevertheless, the basic and fundamental components are still there within grasp and King is still the unmatched figurehead when it comes to penning his thoughts on horrifying novels.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Blessed Chinese New Year 2015

Here's to wishing my ardent readers a very blessed and happy Chinese New Year 2015; the year of the Goat to be exact. May you all continue to be blessed in the love of God and be blessed not only prosperously, but abundantly. Here's to also wishing you a safe journey back for those of you who will be embarking on a long journey home and that you remember to drive safe so that your loved ones at home are guaranteed a blissful CNY reunion.

As we all prepare to dig into our reunion dinner in less than 48 hours time, let us all also be reminded of our Chinese traditions and our generations that has come and gone as to what the closeness of family really entails. Though our young ones may see this as a time to celebrate the festivities with firecrackers and have a smashing time in collecting angpows and rekindled with their distant cousins or whatnots, let us also remember to inculcate in them the spirit of togetherness. That of the importance of family is of vital significance, lest they grow up much later on and forget all these primary values of love.

And as for us who are hitting the late 20s and early 40s, let us all be reminded of the apotheosis of life - which is to show our utmost respect to our parents who has brought us up painstakingly and ensure us all a good and bright future that we are now in. The sole fact that we are now living independently in our own lives goes to prove that your parents have done well in bringing you up and ensuring that you have a good education so that your future prospects are wonderful. Let us not forget this very simple fact, this very fundamental truth behind it all. Let us not be blinded by the movements of modernisation and the busy culture that swarms over us as we get absorbed in our hectic lives in the city.

What amazes our parents and our elderly folks is the simple gesture of returning to them, to show them that yes, they have brought us up the correct way through the only way they know. That is to shower love upon us and direct us to the best of destination as we grow up in our fledgling years. And not forgetting the utter significance in diverting us from our wayward behaviour when we show so much of wandering off course in our teenage years, where ingrown rebelliousness is known to propagate like a brushfire. But most importantly, let us not forget that God is in it for this. To be blessed by Him for giving us a good family, good parents and a comforting shelter far away from the dangers and violence.

And with that, may I end with the usual phrases that follows:-

Different Seasons, Stephen King

I might be new to short stories by Stephen King, having read only one in the last year which was Just After Sunset. But having ravaged through most of his stand alone novels to rote memory on his prose, I decided to experiment with his short stories. And believe me when I say that this guy has it in him to pen almost anything from that brain of his.

Different Seasons comprises of four distinct novellas to which the first remains at heart the number one movie of all times for everyone old enough to watch a movie. For all that’s worth it’s pretty dime, Shawshank Redemption even beat the Godfather Series in IMDb to take home what is rightfully hers in the first place. Need I say more about the first story that King penned without seemingly requiring any effort. And if you think that the movie was great, wait till you’ve read the real deal.

His second and third short stories in this book is equally stunning - one of Apt Pupil which chills right through the bone when it deals with the sick mind of a kid who has an interest that is not your typical garden-variety hobby. That innocent walk down the driveway to his elderly neighbour, Arthur Denker turned out to be one hell of a nightmarish sort as he starts to lose his grades and gained something that would change his life forever, not that he has much to begin with once he gets acquainted with the devil in disguise. The Body likewise dealt with a more gruesome physical lust after a dead body, one inanimate subject that seems to thrill the younger groups. Out to gain fame for themselves, four junior high kids decided to sneak in through the woods into a nearly abandoned railway line to seek out their dead friend who was knocked out of his essence of life by a speed train. As the body has never been really found, such a luxurious discovery would throw them into the limelight. Problem is, the elder brother of one of these four chums who so happens to mix with a group of similar thugs are on the beat as these kids are. And so the stories begin…

The last - The Breathing Method is one that would stick with you for a long time yet. It never really has an ending to begin with and being the shortest of all the four novellas, it delves into a gentleman’s private club where they spin stories and tales with each meeting that somehow verged on dark humour and macabre narratives. One such narrative took up half of the story ending with a newborn delivery of a decapitated woman who could still breathe throughout her final ordeal of labour pains. But certain darker aspects of the story leaves you to ponder as to the deeper truth of the origins of this particular building and its’ butler who has become a fixture for these gentleman of higher standings to come together in each of these meetings to share in their common interest of a horrific tale.