Aaand we’re back!

edfilmfest2

Welcome back to the The iLiterate Blogger!

The last we’ve met was at the beginnings (and odd middles) of my university education in the great city of Edinburgh and I would like to thank all of you who helped liberate me from my backlog of literature. You guys were great. It will be a few months before I’m back on the wagon and reviewing books/travels again but until then I would like to share with you an aspect of my higher education that hadn’t fully integrated itself into this blog: film.

After three years of serving on the committee of the university’s student-run cinema (EUFS) and writing brief reviews for its booklets, I will be running a review commentary on the city’s famed Film Festival. You will be able to find these on my sister blog, An Alarming Shade and also on the society website, linked above. Pending a press pass, I will be writing these on behalf of the EUFS and alongside its other committee members.

Thanks for sticking around and I suppose I’ll see you at the screens!

 Now. Go read something.

– the iLiterate Blogger –

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The Second List

NOTE: My copy of The Gone-Away World has been signed by the author.

Happy reading! “Snow Crash”, “Midnight Children” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” from the last list are still up for grabs!

Now. Go read something.

– The iliterate Blogger –

Stories, stories, Everywhere.

   Stories, stories, Everywhere. We do enjoy a good story. Ingenious mysteries or disturbing terrors, a fantastical fantasy or a grim reality. Wherever we look there is something to be told, especially at airports or train stations: two ports I have had the good fortune of passing through recently. The boy with both blacks eyes and the ravenous appetite. The old couple with a map of Great Britain covered in flourished scribbling. The tales write themselves.

   My sister linked me to an interesting video yesterday. It’s always a little strange when people send you links, saying: “This seems like the kind of thing you would like!” Sometimes they are right and your predictable ways will depress you. Other times they are wrong and you will wish that people knew you better. What fickle monsters we are! At any rate, it is this particular song and video which prompted me to write about finding stories everywhere. Take a gander at it. Depending on your disposition, you may find the plot disquieting. But it isn’t (promise).

   I hope that you’re all looking for tales to tell, wherever you are. But keep in mind that fine, fine line between scandal and story.

Now. Go read something.

– The iLiterate Blogger – 

Of Space and Shelves and Sacrifice

Hello and welcome to This is iLiterate. If you have been directed to this page from my google+ profile, facebook page, twitter feed or a message board… well, you already know the point of this entry. In which case you are more than welcome to contact me with a request. Otherwise, read on! 

   In spite of the fact that my creaking bookshelves have long been begging me to cease the purchase of further comrades, I have continued to feed my collection of novels. Many of these I have not read and there now exists a confusingly transcontinental library that belongs to one Nuri Tal. But strewn across countries or not, iSimply cannot proceed to hoard these precious tomes- they deserve better, more permanent homes and my lovely siblings deserve not to have their flats annually assailed by bibliohabits. So now iReach my point.

Over the next two weeks, I will be posting entries listing four to six books that I intend to give away. Most of these books are in good condition: not “like new”, as you Amazonians may put it, but quite close to that. I do not require payment for any of them unless you happen to reside out of the United Kingdom, in which case I may ask you to pay shipment. Only one book per-person. Should you receive a book from me, I invite you to keep the darling safe and then pass it along like a good summer cold.

THE LIST #1: “A Good mix”

  NOTE:  Thanks very much for your attention! You may contact me at this e-mail address:

theiLiterate@gmail.com

Now. Go read something. 

– The iLiterate Blogger –

A Lesson in Coffee

A cup o'caffeine (Cappuccino pictured)

Oh, my. Coffee. Caffeine. Craving.

Children don’t like it, teens are tempted to it and anyone who has stayed up until two in the morning writing a two-thousand word essay is probably (most definitely) hooked on it.

iKnow, iKnow… it might not be your thing. You could be a Red Bull raver or a Tea Time taster. In which case you probably order tea or hot chocolate or a mocha when you get dragged down to the local cafe. Poor thing.

Don’t worry though. iStand here today with a somewhat helpful guide to coffee for you Starbucks virgins and H2O aficionados! Fear not the Italian names and the oddly fashionable barista! Well, maybe the barista. Be kind to your barista and you will be rewarded.

Barista is just fancy talk for the people who make and serve your drinks. In a world where your brain can’t function without its daily cup o’caffeine , the barista is your saviour. A good rapport with him or her can lead to free drinks, size upgrades and the occasional  extra shot of syrup/espresso. Unless your barista is fashionably aloof, a smile can work wonders. They get enough energy-starved grumps on their shift.

So you vaguely know the people. What about the important stuff? Basics! There’s straight up black coffee. That’s right: an old fashioned mug of dark putrid liquid served with or without sugar, depending on how jaded you are. A dash of milk softens the taste but I advise drinking it black if you really need to wake up. If you’re interested in other forms of plain black coffee, google kopi’o: a thick (often very sweet) black coffee served in Malaysia: perfect on the rocks.

Disregard the syrupy flavours unless you're addicted to both sugar and caffeine.

Firstly- the espresso. The espresso is an intense shot of coffee usually served in a very small cup. Seriously, it really is a shot. People who like intense coffee (or who happen to be male, above the age of 35) like their espresso. It’s extremely bitter but it’s also the best form of coffee to taste when observing different ‘flavours’. Want to understand why some coffee blends are described as fruity and others as… uh, nutty? Best way to tell the difference is with an espresso.

The espresso also forms the base of other popular coffee drinks you see on elusive cafe menus. The cappuccino, pictured above, is a cup of frothed milk with one or two shots of espresso. iQuite like it myself. iMean, it even looks delicious. A close relative of the cappuccino is the Flat White, which is a more recent invention. Thank the Kiwis for that. It’s a cup of very velvety milk with about two shots of espresso– and it can be difficult to make so trust only a practiced barista. The drink is popular in New Zealand and Britain, as far as iCan tell.

Now here comes the weaker drinks! If you really are a coffee cynic, then these are more your style. They’re a good place to start when you’re submitting to peer pressure by trying to fit in with those cool coffee kids at college (hooray, alliteration and social critique!). So let’s look at the Latte. A glass of milk with one shot of espresso…i.e. one third espresso, two thirds milk. Throw in a sugar cube and you may consider it a tolerable drink. A mocha is like a latte but with added chocolate powder or syrup. Yummy: frothy like a cappuccino and some people like it with whipped cream. Those not brave enough declare their childish tastes with a hot chocolate, order this. iWon’t go into frappuccinos. Filled to the brim with sugary goodness, it is unlikely for people to confess frappuccino-ignorance.

iPersonally go for a good cappuccino/flat white. But hey, one has to broaden one’s tastes.

Recently, iHave expressed an interest in that intriguing concoction… Turkish coffee. Sorry to say that iHave not yet attempted to taste it but iAm very eager to. Turkish Coffee isn’t a type of blend: it is a method of preparing coffee. iUnderstand that it is often very thick and bitter and that the grounds form a muddy layer at the bottom of the espresso-size cup. It is typically drunk with sugar although some Arabs take it plain with a sweet dessert on the side. Another adventure for The illiterate Blogger, no doubt! How about having an adventure of your own? Coffee Culture doesn’t require heavy tomes or an expensive trip around the world… not a bad way spend a couple of dollars.

Now. Go drink read something.

-The illiterate Blogger-


Autumn Rain.

Autumn

London City (courtesy of Getty Images © 2010)

Autumn is here and leaves are falling from their trees. England is rather picturesque in the autumn. Pretty in the summer, maybe… pleasant in the spring and positively gothic in the winter. But this sneaky little season – creeping into our lives as a steady stream of slightly lowering temperatures – is supremely serene, beyond beautiful. Colours are deep, winds pick up and if you happen to be out a little before sunset on a sunny day then you might be able to catch something different in the air. No: the memory of something different (and Dead) blowing in from what England once was. It is a sad and soothing magic.

iHave failed to be punctual with my updates once more! No worries… not much of an audience to complain. The luxury of an obscure personal blog in the great world wide web. At any rate, it is not a popular season for blogs and playful endeavors for many of my generation because now that autumn is here, so is a new academic term. Schools and Universities are welcoming their students back by the throngs, coolah, coolay! iMyself am due to begin a second year of silliness (Politics) and seriousness (Economics). Tweedledee and Tweedledum. It is therefore only proper that I attempt to do some form of summing up in regards to my summer.

King

Stephen King's "It."

iHave enjoyed an admittedly lazy and uneventful vacation. Some vacations should be, iSuppose. It has certainly encouraged an appreciation of more productive lifestyles. It has also given me ample time to read and play and dream and sleep and catch up with old friends. As you can see to my left, we have a poster featuring the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s popular horror classic, “It”. Haven’t seen it? It’s a reasonably scary movie, up until the last twenty minutes (which are still worth a watch if you want a good laugh).

iPromised- in an earlier version of this blog- to read “The Shining” by Mister King. Well, to read anything by the fellow because “The Talisman” had left a rather bitter taste in my mouth. As someone who is presently 70% into “It”, iCan now confidently announce that I no longer express distaste of his novels. If all of them are as well-crafted and fascinating as this… well, he’s off my iHate list. Let’s just leave it at that. Do give it a try if you share my former dislike of Stephen King and if you don’t have a crippling fear of clowns.

My other books have been light and quick affairs. iHave perused the “Pretties” trilogy by Westerfield and Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”. Most of this was done during a rather painful period of illness iExperienced. Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” was also on my list. Not as marvelous as his Sandman creations or as playful as The Graveyard Book but it is full of the nonsensical fun that Gaiman practically emanates. iLook forward to reading his other stories.

Layton, Curious Village

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

For now, my life is peppered with the effort of getting organized for the trials and tribulations ahead of me in Edinburgh. Sweaters to be dug up, textbooks to be bought, boots to be polished and guilty pleasures to be savoured. iHave also been amidst the holy month of Ramadan- fasting here is difficult because the sun sets much later than it does in Malaysia. Eh, one should not complain too much… it is not meant to be a terribly easy task. Soon it will be Eid al-Fitr and the celebrations will commence! Happy days. iHope that all fellow Muslims across the globe will be able to celebrate their Eid in relative comfort.

So. If you’re wondering about the Englishman in the top hat to my right, then you probably don’t own a Nintendo DS or keep up with video game ads.

“Professor Layton” is a series of games on the DS handheld console. It is basically a collection of challenging puzzles (over a hundred) set into the context of a mysterious story. Our main character is Layton himself although most of the time the player feels relegated to the role of his sidekick, Luke. iHave played and completed the first two games of the series over the summer. The third is due this October. If you do own the console and if you’re looking for something more creative than your average brain teaser, then do yourself a favour and check it out. Some anime fans might find the light-hearted story and intriguing characters appealing- there is in fact an animated movie based on the series: “Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva” also being released in October.

Have iFilled your luverly heads with enough miscellaneous information? iHope so. I’d like to offer a big thanks to a certain Floridan Pokemon fan for nudging me into writing an entry, by the way. As for the rest of you…

Now go read something.

-The illiterate Blogger-

iHave Arrived

CityGate

"I see a red door..."

Welcome.

The illiterate Blogger has arrived at a new home. This home, like many roads and buildings in the Reality of things, is under construction. iWill not be intimidated by the infuriating mechanics of designing a blog and posts will be published on a fortnightly basis. One hopes.

Unlike one Miss Dickinson, we will not ponder on that thing with feathers however. iWish to share with my readers – whether you exist or not (for it doesn’t really matter as long as iBelieve) – a new experience in the field of books. It pertains to a matter which many of you have hesitant views on… and others much stronger, traditional opinions. It is the future of publication perhaps. You know now that I write of the intriguing eBook.

Opening a book is an act nearly sacred in feeling. iCan imagine it now. The pages are old and dusty… they smell like second homes. Sentence by sentence, another world is consumed by your eyes and digested by your mind. Defecated by your memory who can replicate only shadows of moments, of glances. Then the deed is done and sighing in contentment (or whimsy even?), you close the book. A satisfactory thud. What screen may even begin to imitate this experience? What terrible trinket of technology would even dare?

Why none, of course.

The eReader does not wish to be a book. It is not the mistress who yearns to be the wife. It is simply the Mistress, content in its duty to satisfy a hunger for convenience. And so, hanging my head in shame, iDo admit to having a Mistress. May my shelves of dusty tomes forgive me- surely they understand the temptation. The seductive build, the astonishing versatility.

Oh alright, taking the analogy a little too far maybe.

The eReader in question is the only device with a Wireless in-built store available to those of us presently residing in the United Kingdom: the Amazon Kindle. As a frequent commuter between two cities, iOften find myself shifting dozens of books from one place to another for vacations and trips. Most bibliophiles do, iImagine. It was the efficient use of space and weight which lured me into the arms of this elegant little contraption. iHave no regrets (and unlike those liars on their deathbeds, iDo mean it)!

First things first: it utilizes an e-Ink display… contrary to popular belief, this feels nothing like a computer screen. Stroll into any store with a good eReader and you will understand my meaning when iTell you that they have indeed earned the right to call it electronic paper. It may be sharper and less grainy then typical book paper, if I may be honest. The closest comparison would be thick, glossy magazine paper. Not an unpleasant thing.

My first experience with the Kindle was with Trudi Canavan’s  Black Magician Trilogy, which are, incidentally, very good Young Adult books if you’re interested in beginning an experiment of the Fantasy genre on a light note. But that is beside the point. After the first few chapters, it was easy to forget that iWas reading on an eReader. There is also the nifty ability of being able to change the size of your font (more than just nifty for those of you with the remarkable talent of misplacing your reading spectacles at the wrong time- you know who you are).

What can iSay to close this post? iWill say that if you are looking for something extraordinary… something amazing… something ridiculously spectacular and beyond the typical reading experience… well, you’re in for a disappointment. Reading is reading. The eReader should only be invested in by travelers, commuters and anyone with a penchant for carrying their libraries around in rucksacks.

iLove my Kindle. Still, iHave my shelves of unread books and boxes of old ones waiting to be rediscovered. The analogy cannot be so easily forgotten. The eReader is indeed like a Mistress. You may love her, treasure her and take her with you on expensive little adventures. Yet there is the wife. The Wife who waits patiently at home- where you will always return, bound together by some sacred bond.

Now go read something.

– The illiterate Blogger-