serai

We were supposed to head to Cherating for a vacation this weekend but the floods made the trip impossible. Thus, I re-booked for another date next year and here’s three (3) things we did instead:

1. Serai @ Empire

serai empire

We were out at Empire Subang and were debating between Ole Ole Bali (her choice) and Four Seasons London (my choice – I’ve actually been to the one in London during my first Europe backpacking trip).

middle eastern medley

However, we saw this restaurant and my better half decided to eat here so I had the Middle Eastern Medley (RM 45). It’s described as Moroccan lamb shank cooked to perfection, served with spiced rice, cucumber raita and their signature Turkish Relish. I’ve always thought Morocco was in Africa but nevetheless, it tasted really good.

pistachio creme brulee

I liked their Pistachio Crème Brulee (RM 15) too! It comes with a scoop of ice cream with nuts at the bottom…

serai us

…and it’s plated for two!

2. Big Bad Wolf Sale 2013

commando

We braved the throngs of people all heading to Mines last night. I saw a couple of nice coffee-table books like a comic called Commando that came out in the 1960′s. I remember buying and reading this in primary school. The pulp comic book sold for RM 1 and I’ll forgo my lunch just to get a couple of copies. The art was realistic and gritty and this 50 year edition had 6 collections with commentary for RM 20.

commando comics

It’s a good deal, especially considering the quality paper it was printed on. I didn’t end up buying it though.

neil gaiman eternals

However, I bought a ton of other books. My dear bought some for herself and the kids too. I mostly went for hardcovers (which would go well on my bookshelf) but I also got this graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s called Eternals, a Marvel property, and rewritten by Gaiman. It’s on the higher priced side at RM 25 but worth it to complete my collection. I’m a fan (of Gaiman, not Marvel) and I collect his works.

big bad wolf sale

The other stuff I bought were stuff like special mission units (SAS, DEVGRU etc) autobiographies, which I’ve been reading a lot lately since No Easy Day by Mark Oven (pseudonym) about the Operation Neptune Spear. The author (real name Matt Bissonnette) was a DEVGRU assaulter who was the second person in and made one of the killing shots to the late (and great? ;)) Mr. bin Laden.

book

I also threw in some sci-fi and the witty novels that are so in vogue nowadays. I like the staff there, they’re really friendly and helpful but the announcer is a bit of an annoying personality, I could constantly hear him over the PA berating people for infractions real and imagined. smirk

3. Truffled egg

truffled egg

I have perfected my truffled egg recipe! It involves using white truffle oil to finish a slow cooked (indirect heat, much like the Poached chicken breast with beetroot and nectarine puree I did) scrambled egg with heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper.

summer truffle breadsticks

It’s best eaten with summer truffle bread sticks. We had this for breakfast on Sunday. The French summer truffle bread sticks retails for over RM 80 per box (!!!). I got it for 80% off coz the use-by date was near though. I love our home cooked Sunday brunches. :)

wicked the musical

Wicked the Musical is one of the best musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s currently showing at Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Yup, I caught the West End cast in this award winning production! :)

wicked

Wicked is actually based on the first of a trilogy of books by Gregory Maguire called Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of you would have watched or read The Wizard of Oz at some point in your childhood. It’s a good movie but ultimately suffers from being based on a children’s book – it’s all black and white, good versus evil.

wicked book

As you grow older, such concepts are foreign, nay, an insult to your intelligence, in a world you know has no such absolutes. It’s all shades of gray and Wicked will appeal to the older audience. The book and the musical adaptation has quite a few differences though – the book is darker and Dorothy does not make an appearance in the written word.

wicked glinda

However, I love the musical coz it weaves everything together and portrays Elphaba (the name of the Wicked Witch of the West) as a revolutionary who fights for the rights of Animals. She is ultimately a very misunderstood character and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

wicked ticket

I managed to get reasonably good seats for 62.50 pounds (about RM 300) – it’s the very front row in the middle of the Dress Circle. I was impressed by the props on stage as well – the animatronic bird (?) hovering over the stage like a large pterodactyl that comes alive when the Wizard of Oz makes his speeches is awe inspiring!

apollo victoria wicked

The orchestra playing in front of the stage is so good that I went and bought the CD + program for 20 pounds. Wicked the Musical is probably best known for the song “Defying Gravity” which also appeared in an episode of Glee (the one with the wheelchairs in Season One).

wicked program cd

I won’t spoil the story for you but basically the musical is about Glinda (The Good Witch of the South), Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and Nessa (The Wicked Witch of the East) during their days in school.

orchestra

The witches weren’t known as such then (Glinda is such a selfish airhead) and the incredibly sad and touching series of events which culminated in the death of Nessa (damn Madame Morrible) and the vilification of poor Elphaba will bring a tear to even the most stone hearted man. >.<

elphaba

The production runs for about 3 hours, including an intermission between Act I and Act II and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for those with an interest in theatre (and even those without). If you only watch one musical in your lifetime, let it be Wicked. I got so angry at Galinda and felt so sorry for Elphaba even though it’s just great acting.

I can relate so much to Elphaba. T_T

No one mourns the wicked. :(

big bad wolf books

I went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale earlier this week and came home with a cache of books that I’ve been intending to get – Neal Stephenson’s Baroque cycle, some Stephen King, Anne Rice’s Christ trilogy and Dune novels. It’s really cheap – going from RM 8 – RM 10 (and some of them are hardcovers, mind). Racking up a RM 122 bill is a bargain, since I got 14 books for the price of 4. :)

two amazon books
I just received my orders from Amazon – I sent them to my mailing
address back home instead of over here and my parents brought them over
today during dinner. They were on their way to KL.

strength of the wolf book
The Strength of the Wolf – The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs by Douglas Valentine

road of excess book
The Road of Excess – A History of Writers on Drugs by Marcus Boon

Anyway, my apologies about the quirks this site is experiencing
now…I messed up something while putting up the categories and broke
it even more when I went into phpMyAdmin to try and rectify things.
I’ll fix it tomorrow, excuse me, I’m so full now that I am either going
to throw up or sleep and I’ll choose the latter. :)

curiosity book

I will do the review of the book Curiosity before going into details
about how a free review copy was mailed to me by the author’s wife via
their publishing house. I just got the book on Friday and I have to
state that I received the book free, so if you think that’s going to
bias my review…you’re absolutely right. ;) Nah, I’m kidding, I’ll do
a proper review.

Curiosity is written by Gerald Allen Wunsch and published by
AuthorHouse and comes in a paperback format. The cover of the book is
printed on full color glossy high quality cardboard. The pages of the
books are printed on acid free “pulp-like” paper, and there seems to be
some inconsistencies in the typeface (poor printing) as shown below.
That’s the most extreme example though…the fonts are mostly printed
properly, unless you look too hard.

curiosity fonts

I finished reading the book in less than an hour. It’s not meant for
my age group – Curiosity is a children’s novel. However, I did learn
something from the book. I did not know about the Underground Railroad
(upon which this book is based) and how it ties in with the American
Civil War, the slave trade and the revolution. That makes it
interesting reading – the book is based on historical accounts, so it’s
informational as well as readable.

curiosity chapter end

The protagonists are two girls named Ginger Wanamaker and Irene
Fong. The book goes out of the way to introduce cultural diversity,
which isn’t a bad thing. The best thing about this book is the “Choose
your own adventure” type ending to certain chapters. This is
illustrated in the photo above – the reader can flip to the back of the
book to learn about real information.

curiosity wire fox terrier

This excerpt is about Wire Fox Terriers and contains interesting
information about these dogs. The dog in the book is based on the
author’s own dog. There are a few situations that are based around the
author’s life and some characters are based on the people around him.
My only gripe about the footnotes is that it only appears in the first
few chapters and tapers off towards the end of the book.

The content of the book is interesting – it slips themes of racial
tolerance and historical accounts in the fictional story. I imagine
that some parents would want a book like this for their children. It
manages to keep the reader interested in the adventures of the
protagonists while telling a historical narrative and indirectly
promotes cultural tolerance. The other good thing about it is that
there’s a list of web sites at the end of the book for people who wants
to read further into the Underground Railroad.

I would prefer to rate a book by the “Whether I’ll buy it or not”
criteria instead of giving arbitrary scores. Would I buy Curiosity? No,
but hear me out. It’s coz I’m not in the target audience and my reading
interests lie elsewhere. I just bought The Road of Excess: A History of
Writers on Drugs and The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of
America’s War on Drugs from Amazon, so the subject matter of books I
like is not exactly a big secret.

The better question to ask is “Would I buy Curiosity for my kids?”
I would.

I started reading at a very early age and I fully expect my children
to surpass me so I’ll recommend this for children aged 5 and below. I
hope that my progeny would understand the themes this book goes into
before that age, since children are supposed to be faster, stronger,
better than their parents and I had understood complex themes when I
was 7. I should note that the book is suggested for children aged 9 -
12 though. The Amazon list price is US$ 11.45 (RM 43.51), which is a
bit steep for Malaysians due to the currency conversion, but it’ll be
fine for countries with a more robust currency.

curiosity book back

Thanks to Martha Wunsch and AuthorHouse [authorhouse.com] for the free review copy. Cheers to The Book Review Blog
[blogspot.com] email digest for passing along the information for
getting the free review book. I don’t know if the offer is still valid,
but here’s the email in its entirety:

From: Martha Wunsch
Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 8:48 AM
To: thebookreviewblog@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [thebookreviewblog] Anyone want a free review book?

Here’s ordering information from my publisher. It’s at the top–
Jerry Wunsch

***For Immediate Release***
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

To request a free review copy of Curiosity:
Phone: 1-888-519-5121, Ext. 244-Leave message, or
E-mail: cmcglashan@authorhouse.com or FAX: 1-812-961-1023.
(Include your street address for UPS delivery. Charlene will inform
me of your request.)

Kids Find Underground Railroad Site-

Children’s novel offers Underground Railroad terrorism in a
gentle, modern story

Ginger Wanamaker and her best friend, Irene Fong, along with
a terrier’s help, make a great discovery. Ginger’s grandparents’
home was once a station on the Underground Railroad! In Curiosity
published by AuthorHouse in July 2003 (ISBN: 1-4107-3699-7; LCCN:
2003092263), Gerald Allen Wunsch tells this adventurous children’s
story through Ginger’s eyes.
Laird, a spirited wire fox terrier, accompanies the girls
and becomes a hero in the story through his digging and exploring.
The Wanamaker’s home is an artifact of a critical movement in
American history, and, for these knowledge-thirsty young students,
it opens a door to new learning.
Irene’s parents were born in Suriname, South America. Her
ancestors were slaves. These details convey the message that
slavery existed all over the world, not just in the United States.
This multicultural emphasis in Curiosity broadens young minds. Boys
and girls will have fun reading about Ginger and Irene’s
discoveries, while learning about the Underground Railroad from a
contemporary perspective.
The story text, sprinkled with “Whispers” interludes, also
links to a 30-page “More Information” section in the back of
Curiosity. Illustrations by Irene Joslin, award-winning cartoonist
for the Brown County Democrat in Nashville, Indiana, enliven the
story line.
Wunsch is a retired immigration attorney who also served in
the 1970′s as career diplomat with the U.S. State Department. His
foreign assignments included Hermosillo, Mexico, Paramaribo,
Suriname, and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Curiosity is his first
children’s book. Since retirement, Wunsch has contributed four
articles to The Sacred Octagon, an MG sports car magazine. He lives
bordering the Hoosier National Forest with his wife Martha and their
terrier friend Laird, featured in Curiosity.
Curiosity may now be found in 34 public libraries and
schools. It is currently sold at Viewpoint Books and the Visitors
Center in Columbus, Cover to Cover Bookstore in Madison, the Levi
Coffin House in Fountain City, and Conner Prairie, the Indiana State
Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society in the Indianapolis area–
12 independent bookstores in all. On-line it may be purchased from
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Walmart, and many other on-line
booksellers. You can order Curiosity at any Barnes & Noble or
Borders mall bookstore or directly from our supply at home
(mgwunsch@comuage.com).
Here is a roundup of a few Curiosity events. On September
23, Bud Shippee of Seymour’s WQKC-WZZB (93.7FM; 1390AM) interviewed
Jerry during his “Breakfast Club.” The next day Patty Spitler
interviewed Laird and Jerry on Indianapolis’s CBS affiliate, Channel
8, during the News8 at Noon show. The canine/author duo appeared
again at the Jackson County Public Library November 15 for a
children’s program on the Underground Railroad followed by Laird’s
clicker tricks and a book signing, the third such public library
program. They presented a program on the writing process at
Cortland Elementary School before 120 children November 21. Jerry
and Laird were also at the Indiana Historical Society’s Holiday
Author Fair on December 7 and are planning eight Underground
Railroad programs at public libraries and schools in February. They
recently finished a program at St. Ambrose Elementary February 2
before 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and with 500 children February 13
at East Side Elementary. Five other elementary schools have
requested their appearance before the end of the 2003-4 school
year. Also, look for them at the Conner Prairietown Market April 24.

For interview requests, contact Laird for his tricks and Gerald
Wunsch, 10019 North State Road #135, Freetown, Indiana, 47235-
8517,or call (812) 497-0067, or e-mail mgwunsch@compuage.com.

For further description and photos:

Until April 24th: http://www.connerprairie.org/Events/gaWunsch.asp

http://www.wirehairfoxterrier.com/resources/wunsch.htm

http://www.1stbooks.com/ & www.amazon.com
(type in “Gerald Allen Wunsch”-Curiosity)

amazon box

I just received the shipment from amazon.com today. I went to get it
from the post office during lunch break (Friday), which was why I
didn’t have time to reply all the comments. This package went through
two customs checks on the 24th and the 25th. Naturally they opened the
box to inspect its contents.

valium book package

I think it’s appalling…I was told that it was inappropriate to
open mail not intended for you and obviously customs did not have the
same parental supervision. I mean, Jesus, what if I ordered Uncle
Fester’s Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture or a shipment from a
research chemical company? It’s very rude and shocking behavior and I
think you should apologize for invading my privacy. ;)

good chemistry

All jokes aside, this is the hardcover book I’ve wanted: Good
Chemistry – The Life and Legacy of Valium Inventor Leo Sternbach. It’s
a Valentine’s Day gift from my girlfriend, thanks! It’s quite obvious
that I’m a big fan of benzodiazepines and I’ve read a lot of research
about this wonderful family of drugs, so there’s not much I could learn
from that part, but it was very nice to read about the history behind
the man who created Valium.

leo sternbach
All hail the creator!

Here’s an excerpt I’ll like to share with you all:

valium except

The NIMH estimates that 5.3 million Americans suffer from social
phobia. Unlike GAD or panic disorder, equal numbers of men and women
seem to be affected. The disorder usually begins in childhood or early
adolescence and is frequently, and unsurprisingly, associated with
other anxiety disorders and with depression. Social phobics are also at
risk from alcohol and drug dependence, since they are likely to
self-medicate, trying to use alcohol and/or drugs to overcome their
fears.

There’s a catch 22 in all this…they’re also more likely to exceed
prescibed doses and become heavily dependant on benzodiazepines. How’s
that for irony? :)

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