Monday, 22 May 2017

Hand-Blending Hijinks: Mush, Magic And Mayhem

I haven't been picking up a kitchen utensil much or tried out new recipes, but an urgent need to get more greens (and other colours) into my diet had me scrambling for a new blender. The old Khind standing blender was useful, but it's beginning to show its age.

And I had carelessly shredded the gasket for its dry mill long ago. The mill still works but cleaning up is messier.

At the suggestion of a friend, I settled for a hand blender: a Philips ProMix with a 550W motor, the same one she uses. I haven't test-driven many blenders, though some online sources equate high motor power with better blending. The powerhouses are all imported brands and expensive, so thriftiness triumphed.

But while inspecting the business end, the blade left a bloodless mark on my thumb. Nice to meet you too.


Say hello to my magic wand


About half a dozen smoothies later, I don't see any difference in blending quality. Fibrous ingredients such as carrot and berries don't liquefy as much, but the soft stuff like bananas pretty much melted. However, clean-up's a breeze.

Unfortunately, I still can't wake up late and pulverise a few ingredients into an astronaut's breakfast before heading off to work. And I have to be careful of consuming too much raw or wrong food that might protest my treatment of it by rioting in my gut.

Anyway...

One of the first combinations I mooted was an apple, orange and carrot smoothie, thickened with oats, oat bran or chia seeds. The latter produced a cleaner and thicker mix, compared to the creamier and somewhat milkier one made with oats. I can also spice it up with turmeric.

Another recipe was a zucchini and cauliflower concoction with oat bran for bulk and seasoned with black pepper and lemon juice - basically a cold soup of raw ingredients. Adding a clove or two of garlic, powdered Parmesan and olive oil made for a naughtier version.


The "naughty" zucchini and cauliflower smoothie-not-smoothie,
before and after - with help from a mortar and pestle


This recipe was more involved. I mixed Greek yoghurt, water, lemon juice and powdered Parmesan cheese into the blending beaker first; chopped the cauliflower florets, zucchini and garlic; and dry-toasted and ground the black peppercorns and oat bran. The bran had to be ground with a mortar and pestle, as the blender alone would not do.

What I got tasted fresh, clean and healthy, with a spicy kick from the pepper. When cheese, garlic and olive oil were added, not so much. Zucchini and cauliflower blend quite well, but it's another story when they're frozen. Probably because of the ice crystals. Should've dipped the Ziploc bag holding the extra chunks in water to defrost first.

I also mixed something with Aik Cheong coffee steeped in milk, banana, Greek yoghurt and a little vanilla extract, but it's an acquired taste. Maybe it'll become the next New York food craze. They're already serving lattes in avocado skins... .

Other recent recipes include purple carrot/apple/blueberry and plum/blueberry/apple juice with chia seeds. I reckon I can get more fruit and veg into my diet this way; one smoothie can comprise up to two and a half servings of either.


Plum, blueberry and chia seed smoothie made with apple juice. I used a
glass and set aside some fruit and hydrated chia seeds for garnish.


Before the plum and blueberry smoothie, I made pesto with the magic wand, but it seems, as it was the case with the standing blender, I might have to chop the basil leaves and process them in batches. With the beaker size of 500ml max, I can make enough for a few servings of pasta.

Mmm, can't wait to revisit my mushroom and "ancient carrot" soups, experiment on curry pastes and try some sambals. Once I exhaust all humanly possible combinations for smoothies, that is, which might take ... two years, assuming I make one smoothie a day. Wish me luck.

I know they say men going through midlife crises find succour in power tools but I don't think that includes handheld blenders.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Book Marks: Robert Pirsig, E-book Slump

A little exhausted for the past fortnight, so I haven't been keeping watch on the book and publishing front. But here's what caught my attention anyway:

  • "Robert M. Pirsig, whose philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance became a million-selling classic and cultural touchstone after more than 100 publishers turned it down, died Monday at age 88. ... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was published in 1974 and was based on a motorcycle trip Pirsig took in the late 1960s with his 12-year-old son, Chris."
  • "When Simon & Schuster announced in late February that it is canceling Milo Yiannopoulos's book, Dangerous, many in the publishing industry reacted with a sigh of relief. ... though it's still unclear what ultimately motivated the publisher to yank the book, the fervor that the alt-right bad boy's deal caused put some on alert. Could other publishers be pressured into canceling books by controversial conservatives? Does the industry have a double standard for authors on the right? Does it matter?"
  • Book piracy is hurting Zimbabwean authors, including Charles Lovemore Mungoshi. "Mungoshi is so famous in Zimbabwe and other countries ... he should be able to make a comfortable living just like some writers in Africa and other parts of the world," writes Lazarus Sauti in The Southern Times. "but the book sector in Zimbabwe is so punishing to the extent that the celebrated writer is not even enjoying the fruits of his fame and hardwork. Recently, his family sourced for $9,000 required for a repeat operation after doctors inserted a shunt to drain water from his brains last year."
  • "It's World Book Day, but India's publishers are up against a serious snag: The [Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency, which issues ISBNs for books in India,] launched a website where publishers ... would have to register to get their numbers. ... This website, however, is still riddled with bugs. And with no phone number through which the Agency can be reached, some publishers have been left waiting for months for their ISBN numbers, with no clarity on the status of their application."
  • '"It was new and exciting,' says Cathryn Summerhayes, a literary agent at Curtis Brown. 'But now [Kindles] look so clunky and unhip, don't they? I guess everyone wants a piece of trendy tech and, unfortunately, there aren't trendy tech reading devices and I don't think people are reading long-form fiction on their phones. I think your average reader would say that one of the great pleasures of reading is the physical turning of the page. It slows you down and makes you think.'"
  • "It wasn't so long ago that book publishers and bookstore owners were quailing about the coming of ebooks, like movie theater owners at the dawn of the television age. Now they're taking things more calmly. Recent statistics confirm a trend first noticed by the book trade in late 2015: At least among major publishers, ebook sales have plateaued or even begun to decline. It turns out that not all readers are quite ready to give up the tactile pleasures of holding a hardcover or paperback in their hands in order to partake of the convenience and digital features of e-reading."
  • "Dennis Johnson, co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House Books and one of the first book bloggers, is possibly best known for the fight he picked in the spring of 2014.He was at the front of a group of independent publishers who decided to spar with Amazon over the predatory, escalating fees it was charging small publishers, as well as its covert war on the major publisher Hachette, which it carried out by deliberately delaying shipments and hiking prices. Johnson asked The New York Times how Amazon's business practices weren't considered 'extortion,' and compared the monolith to the Mafia." Enjoy The Verge's interview with Johnson and Melville House's director of marketing and publicity, Julia Fleischaker.
  • "Kasem bin Abubakar was told nobody would buy his chaste romance novels about devout young Muslims finding love within the strict moral confines of Bangladeshi society. And yet his tales of lovers whispering sweet nothings between calls to prayer sold millions in the 1980s and proved a huge hit among young girls from Bangladesh's rural, conservative heartland." Wrong. "Mullah novels" do sell.
  • "[The author] of the book Mila, Maslina Yusoff, will soon have her book animated in collaboration with leading South Korean studio, H Culture. The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam alumni said that her own daughter inspired the story and it has always been her dream to write and illustrate her own children’s books."
  • Saudi novelist Mohammed Hasan Alwan has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, dubbed the Arab Booker, for his novel A Small Death, a fictionalised account of the life of a Sufi scholar and philosopher Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi. ... the US$50,000 prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London, but it is funded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority."

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Book Marks: Tomes, Terror, Etc.

A former university student was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) for possession of books related to terrorism. The news was shocking because part of it might stem from fear of the authorities ("treating her like a terrorist for OWNING BOOKS OMG"), and the fact that the same student was previously acquitted and discharged for the same offence. But things got a little murky when details of her alleged ties to terrorism emerged.

Calls have been made to not play up the issue and leave the matter to the police (gladly!), and some grassroots groups and activists have expressed their support of the detainee and concerns over what they called the "repression of arts and culture" in Malaysia.

There was also a minor Facebook drama over an article in a local Malay-language magazine about Malaysian writers of Indian origin.


Elsewhere:

  • With over 100,000 copies sold and counting, The Hate U Give (the title is based on the song "T.H.U.G." by Tupac) is a phenomenon in the publishing world and an essential read for everyone. And you better get reading, as the book's already been optioned for a film with Amandla Stenberg as Starr." Teen Vogue's Q&A with Angie Thomas, author of her debut novel, The Hate U Give (emphases theirs). And here's the podcast of Thomas's interview on BFM Radio's Bookmark programme.
  • "A Montana library said a stolen book was returned 35 years later with an apology note, a $200 donation, and the author's signature." Said book, Richard Matheson's novel Bid Time Return, was also restored professionally, courtesy of the "thief".
  • "I love editing. Discussing commas and semicolons is my idea of fun, and I enjoy helping other authors find shape and structure in their work. Editing uses the more mathematical side of my brain, creating order from chaos. But on the weekend, when I try to write myself, I have to face the fact that the act of writing is chaos." Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, talks to her editor Noah Eaker about how she wrote it.
  • "What appears to be instant achievement, is really a culmination of preparation and practice. For [Veronica] Roth, that meant 10 years of work before a fully fleshed idea worth publication, took form. Even then, obstacles appeared. Her first manuscript was initially rejected and even after receiving a book deal, rewriting was required."
  • "I encourage people to judge books by their covers! While a poorly designed book isn't necessarily a poorly written book, it's not a promising first impression. If a book is ugly, it doesn't speak well of a publisher's judgement, skill or vision." Black Ocean Publisher Janaka Stucky wants us to, among other things, judge books by their covers.
  • "When I first started submitting my work to literary magazines, I had some pretty uninformed—and, in retrospect, fatalistic—ideas about what the slush pile process might look like. In my nightmare scenario, a team of editors would sit in a brick-lined room, around a wooden table of imposing size strewn with manuscripts and glasses of single malt. One of them would pluck my short story from the stack, glance over their glasses at the cover letter, and then toss it into a burning barrel, unread. They would all laugh and clink glasses as they warmed their manicured hands over the flames." Since then, PRISM's Prose Editor Christopher Evans has discovered that not all of that is true.
  • "Every year, companies go into a frenzy of 'cost containment' – just a fancier term for the drastic and now defunct 'cost cutting.' We all know which budget gets reviewed after the catering and team building budgets ... all together now ... marketing. Therefore, as a marketer, you know that for every rand you request, you will get half of it if you are that lucky, and still a rabbit is expected out of that hat." This piece was written with a focus on South African publishing, but it might have lessons for all of us as well.
  • "In a national culture newly aware of micro-aggressions and offensive speech, what you say can easily strike the wrong tone. One increasingly common solution among US book publishers: Hire someone to be offended for you." Authors and publishers of children's books are hiring sensitivity readers.
  • "It's not that I don't sympathise with your frustration at being unable to fulfil your dream and be published. ... We have all looked at our work – our 'masterpieces', in your words – and wondered the same as you: 'How can I fail?' But you aren't a failed novelist. You’ve had precisely two books on submission to publishers. ... Dear Anonymous, you're not a failure. You're a quitter."

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Book Marks: On Gatekeeping, And The Diversely Bizarre

"[Couple and co-authors Ian and Sarah Hoffman] say the subject of 'Jacob’s New Dress' is one they have personal experience with, having raised a son who used to storm around the house at age 4 'wearing a sparkly princess dress and carrying a (replica) battle ax.' 'Now, he's 14, and into recreational math,' says Ian Hoffman."

So this book written by the Hoffmans was withdrawn from a school in Charlotte, North Carolina, after conservatives railed at it for obvious reasons. The Hoffmans seem baffled by the reaction, and not just because Jacob's New Dress was first published in 2014. "The idea that a book can turn someone gay or transgender is bizarre to us. Reading a book can't turn you gay," Sarah Hoffman told The Charlotte Observer.

Ma'am, some think a movie will make people gay. Tale (almost) as old as time.

Meanwhile, conservatives (and censors) worldwide should probably brace themselves for a wave of children's books featuring transgender teens, blended families and feminism.



"When librarians add self-published e-books to their collections, they shoulder more of the curation responsibility. Self-published books typically haven't survived the agent/publisher gauntlet of traditional gatekeeping—a form of vetting that librarians appreciate—and they typically don't come with the same number of reviews. This may explain why 61% of the librarians at the time of Library Journal's survey had not purchased or were not planning to purchase self-published e-books."

Therefore, Smashwords founder Mark Coker has five tips for getting your self-published e-books to libraries.

If that's not enough to give you hope that your manuscript will see the light of day:

Midlist authors all contribute to a publishers and booksellers bottom line, although they tend not to get many reviews by The New York Times or Publishers Weekly. Their books aren't really reviewed by indie bloggers either, they mainly depend on Amazon reviews by the readers. These authors certainly are not household names, but are tremendously important to publishers for their consistent source of revenue.

But not all good books make it to press, according to Kanishka Gupta, CEO of the South Asia’s largest literary agency, Writer’s Side, who also lays out eight reasons publishers would reject even a good book.

"...having spent more than seven years on the other side, first as a consultant and then an agent, I think many writers have wrong notions about rejections. While most books are rejected because of poor quality and incompetence (as they should be), there are several other factors that play a role in publishing decisions. And these affect 'good' books too."

Even so, such books will see the light of day eventually, depending on the will of the author to push it through. Gatekeepers and similar institutions can get it wrong, and what defines a good book should not be an idée fixe.



I think some of us find this situation familiar:

A month or two ago, a publishing biggie, who makes sure never to like a single Facebook post of mine like it would give him a social disease if he did (after having sent me a friend request just so he could see what damage I was perpetrating), was having something like a nonsexual orgasm on social media because he had acquired the rights of a book by the talentless offspring of a big-time actor. In it, he gushingly referred to the spouse of the "writer", an upstart in the film industry, as a legend.

Meanwhile, another bona fide writer died jumping off a building. (My word, who was it?)

This rant about publishers signing up film stars by author Krishna Shastri Devulapalli struck a chord in the wake of a slew of books by local celebrities and wannabes. But it sounds personal to Krishna, because: "It is funny that I am finding this publishing world's going-out-of-business sell-out to Bollywood objectionable. Because, my own love for reading, and maybe writing, too, pretty much began with books by film folk."

I suppose one could argue that things have changed (or rather, begun to stagnate) in the film world and its people, hence. Niches don't appear by themselves; the market carves them out. So if there is one for books by "film-stars who cannot even read a script", one probably shouldn't judge.



In this profile of bizarro publisher Bizarro Pulp Press is a story of a genre some of you might not know exists, or know by other names. Vincenzo Bilof's piece in Cultured Vultures is so I couldn't pull any quotes off it as a preview— oh, wait, here's one:

After considering Eraserhead Press (and [Carlton Mellick III]'s books) with a fresh perspective, I realized that my original snobbishness conflicted with the fact that I had thought a book like Fecal Terror was fun and worth publishing. If a book about a space sex dwarf with a goat could be published (it hasn't, yet, or at least, I haven't seen it, which means someone should be writing it), why would that be worse than a book about a demonic, talking turd that possesses people?

Why, indeed. Niches, people. No idées fixes.


Plus:

  • "Drew University student Jennifer Rose is like many 20-year-olds, sweating out class assignments, socializing with friends and participating in activities like an anime club and the campus newspaper. But in other ways, she is one of the more unique students at Drew — still learning to cope with autism, she recently became a published author."
  • "Amazon blocked sales for The Corroding Empire, a scifi book from Vox Day's conservative publishing company Castalia House, because the cover bore an uncanny resemblance to John Scalzi’s latest book, The Collapsing Empire. And it wasn't a coincidence." Vox Day is the alias of Theodore Beale, an alt-right figure who declared himself Scalzi's rival. I guess you have to be a certain kind of snowflake to g to such lengths to troll an author.
  • "In 'Falling,' [William McPherson] described the humiliation of asking friends and family for handouts, which managed to keep him off welfare, Medicaid and food stamps. He lived in Washington, where he received a housing subsidy from the federal government. The city helped cover medical insurance payments. He was able to afford a cellphone and a computer — instruments that for a writer, he said, were needs more than wants." An obit in The Washington Post of McPherson, the paper's former Book World editor. Don't quit your day job.
  • "A raid in downtown Nairobi unearthed a multi-million-shilling school textbook piracy racket. The racket was uncovered after the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) and Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) raided Nyamakima in Nairobi and Ngong in Kajiado. The raid also revealed how rogue head teachers were were colluding with hawkers to rob textbooks from public schools."
  • "I always knew I would have to learn a lot before I tried to write a book," wrote Michael Merschel, books editor and assistant arts editor at The Dallas Morning News. "I did not think about what I might learn from writing one." So, what has he learnt from writing his own book?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Pardon My English, Part II

Although this might be an attack on Tun Mahathir, I had to throw my hands in the air and sigh, "Not again."

In Malaysia, language is so tightly tethered to cultural identity that to want to learn another is to betray one's roots, or worse. To hear of schoolchildren being teased for their attempts to study English is depressing.

I've had the benefit of private tuition and an upbringing that encouraged me to use English. Those who can't afford or access that would have to rely on school and measures such as PPSMI. Otherwise, would anyone take the initiative, against social prejudices, to gain access to a wider world?

Multinational firms have been complaining of local grads with poor communication skills at job interviews, particularly in English. Some of these companies NEED employees who can function anywhere, and English - and maybe Chinese - is widely used.

In certain situations, miscommunication can mean disaster. You want to discuss "language apartheid" with a supervisor who's had to deal with a subordinate who doesn't understand phrases such as "Caution: Do Not Open", "This Side Up" and "Danger: Radioactive"?

But no. We get things like "Pihak swasta pilih kasih", "Depa pandang rendah Bahasa Melayu", and "Apa yang hebat sangat kalau speaking?" Or "Jepun dan Korea Selatan tak guna Bahasa Inggeris pun boleh maju."

True beccause learning the language doesn't necessarily move one to adopt the related culture. Japanese and Korean work ethics and civic consciousness can be hard to pick up.

Language is not merely a marker of identity or status any more. It has become a tool - useful ones, too. Stigmatising those who want to learn another language is akin to robbing them of the keys to more opportunities.

I'm not fond of some of the things happening to BM (Why "Bajet"? Too many letters in "Belanjawan"?), and to hear others denigrate the language ticks me off. But there should be other ways of defending BM without angry, jingoistic us-versus-them arguments.

Like it or not, English has become the international language for science, maths, finance and commerce - though I've been told that for the latter, Chinese is gaining ground. In contrast, we have few reasons to use Malay beyond our borders and the language's official capacities.

Tun M has his flaws, but he had foresight in certain matters. Some parents might be getting the hint as well.

When will the rest of us start catching up?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Verse-imilitude: The Charming Tale Of Sarah Dooley’s Poetic Protagonist

first published in The Malay Mail Online, 24 March 2017


Abandoned by her mother when she was little and orphaned after her father and brother perished in separate accidents, Sasha Harless, the teen protagonist in Sarah Dooley's Free Verse, struggles to find her way in the small and possibly fictional American town of Caboose, West Virginia.

Though she comes under the wing of a kind woman called Phyllis, Sasha can't seem to escape her demons, nor can she cope with stuff happening around her.

When a schoolmate and another troubled youngster apparently commits suicide, she takes out her emotional turmoil on a dumpster, which unnerves the school bully, Anthony Tucker.

And if she is really, really overwhelmed, she tends to run away from home — perhaps seeking comfort in any semblance of the escape plan out of Caboose she and her late brother Michael used to talk about. From what I could glean from the pages and beyond, I suspect Sasha might be autistic.

The cycle of moping, acting out and running away goes on until she learns of a relative — an older cousin called Hubert who, like her late father, also works at the nearby coal mines. Then, there's also Mikey, Hubert's son.

Soon, Sasha doesn't feel alone anymore. She starts opening up to her schoolmates, Hubert, Mikey, Phyllis, and even Anthony, who she discovers is part of the school's poetry club. It's through poetry that our heroine finds another way to "escape," cope with her troubles and make sense of her feelings and the world around her.

However, tragedy soon strikes, and Sasha falls back on the usual escape plan. This time, she takes little Mikey along, with dire results...

The book starts out real slow, with few clues as to Sasha's past and her condition. I guess I started paying attention when she hit that dumpster.

And again, when she started writing poetry, which impresses everyone in the poetry club, even the school bully and self-appointed head of the club. And again, when she's told one of her compositions is good enough to possibly win a competition.

And again, when Sasha gets the rug pulled out from under her just when things started brightening up for her. And again, when she deals with the tumult that follows, by penning more poetry. Almost a whole quarter of the novel is Sasha continuing her narrative, entirely in poetic verse.

We get poetry of all sorts — including haikus, cinquains, acrostics, quatrains and, of course, free verse — on ruled pages that bring to mind a kid's notebook, some of which are "torn." And since primers on how to write some types of poetry are smuggled into the novel, you can try your hand at writing a few.

Dooley's portrayal and treatment of the heroine and narrator, the town and its denizens is remarkably true to life. She really gets inside the head of this troubled but apparently talented girl. I Googled and couldn't find this town, but Dooley makes it sound like you can.

Maybe it's because, according to her bio online, she "has lived in an assortment of small West Virginia towns," and she used to be a "special education teacher who now provides treatment to children with autism."

Once Sasha's verses — or technically, the author's — start flowing, everything starts falling into place and things I initially found annoying — the slow pace, the small-town setting, the dialogue and the mundane puttering around these small-towners do — began to make sense.

And who can resist our young plain-speaking protagonist when even her normal prose sounds poetic: "On Sunday, it is pouring down sun. The kind of sun you can't get away from even if you want to; it's so bright, like orange juice, and it splashes into everything."

Not to mention the wit. When she started writing poetry again after a hiatus, she realises that: "Swearing off poetry doesn't work the way swearing off lima beans does. I swore off lima beans in third grade and it worked. I swore off poetry less than a week ago and here I am." You might know some people like that.

And here's a taste of what she can do, poetry-wise. Some words for what I think is her shrink:


Dear Dr Shaw,
Mr Powell swears
you know your stuff,
even though you give names
to things that should have
other names.
You call it "depression."
You call it "anxiety."
I call it "Look what happened."



And it all happens within small-town settings, proving that adventures don't have to span incredible distances covered by, say, dragonflight.

Amazing, how I've found the words — enough for this piece anyway — in spite being sucker-punched into silence by the simple yet effective storytelling. Let me leave you with a few more words:


By Sarah Dooley,
Free Verse is a novel you
have to read. Like, NOW.




Free Verse

Sarah Dooley
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
352 pages
Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-399-16503-0

Amazon | Bookurve | Book Depository | Kinokuniya

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Book Marks: Book Fairs, Comics, And Publishing

"...the ebook story has turned out to have a twist in the tale. Sales of physical books increased 4% in the UK last year while ebook sales shrank by the same amount. Glance around a busy train carriage and those passengers who aren’t on their phones are far more likely to have a paperback than a Kindle.

"The e-reader itself has also turned out to have the shelf life of a two-star murder mystery. Smartphones and tablets last year overtook dedicated reading devices to become the most popular way to read an ebook, according to the research group Nielsen."

So the death of print has yet to arrive, based on this bit of news, which seems to have cheered UK publishers somewhat. The resilience of print appears to be the case in Malaysia as well, according to the Malaysian Book Publishers Association.



"'The content of many of these books is shallow, almost like a collection of tweets,' said 20-year-old Shurooq Hashim, leading member of a book club that participated in the [Riyadh Book Fair]. “When I feel I can write the same, I don't think it deserves to be published. These books are written by people who want to market themselves."

Not everything at the Riyadh Book Fair is good, apparently. "Brief chapters of trivial information in large print and images fill up pages of such books that the publishers deem to be popular among a segment of the population"? Sounds familiar.



According to O'Reilly's research department, computer-book sales have dropped 54 percent since 2007. In principle, the demise of professionally prepared support materials shouldn't be any cause for concern. It's just another sea change unleashed by the Internet, another in the list of casualties, such as printed encyclopedias, newspaper classified ads and music on discs.

"In reality, though, none of the tech industry's teaching channels—manuals, computer books, online sources—is universal and effective."


Also:

  • "People like me assumed that comic books were SUPPOSED to look like that. I assumed that the thick, blotchy lines were drawn that way. I thought the colors were printed outside of the lines on purpose. ... We looked at it as a style instead of the crappy quality that it really was. It wasn't until I began my job as a 'digital art restoration artist' that I began to see just how damaging the process of comic book printing could be to the art."
  • "Tung Nan Book Store was among the first few in Sabah to bring in English books published by Longman and Oxford in England after the Education Department sponsored them to a book fair in London. The books were imported from its supplier in Singapore and later, from Peninsular Malaysia." Now, it's closing down.
  • "Nothing, but nothing—profanity, transgender pronouns, apostrophe abuse—excites the passion of grammar geeks more than the serial, or Oxford, comma. People love it or hate it, and they are equally ferocious on both sides of the debate. At The New Yorker, it is a copy editor’s duty to deploy the serial comma, along with lots of other lip-smacking bits of punctuation, as a bulwark against barbarianism." Comma Queen Mary Norris talks about how a punctuation mark could cost a dairy company millions.
  • "What makes [Büşra Karayıl] different from her peers is the fact that she published a book, 'Esma'nın Günlüğü' (Esma's Diary), at the age of 14. Her story is about an illiterate mother and her daughter who reacts to this situation. When Büşra learned that her mother Şükran was not allowed to go to school because of her gender, she reacted, saying, 'What kind of rubbish is that? This will not happen to me. I will go to school.'"
  • "...books aren't commodities that you can purchase at a bargain. They are the living minds of brilliant people who have taken the time to share their world, their stories, with us, and all we want is a 'discount'!" Q&A with Priyanka Malhotra, owner of New Delhi's Full Circle Bookstore.
  • "Arimba [Kovelinde] was this character and I imagined him as the Anthony Bourdain of the rifts, because I like Bourdain's particular blend of seeking out interesting places and people, and the way food takes him to more casual places rather than making the rounds at only the big attractions like a travel guide would." An interview with the people behind webcomic site Deep Engines, which also publishes the webcomic about said Bourdain-esque character, Epicurean's Exile, that's fast becoming a favourite.
  • "Once the laughing stock of the literary world, self-published books are increasingly establishing themselves among the publishing heavyweights, spurred by the ease of online distribution and companies offering works tailored towards specific niches." Which still comprises genres such as romance, steampunk and, unfortunately, dinosaur erotica.