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[personal profile] oyceter
Hee, I accidentally submitted a review for Rebecca Tingle's The Edge on the Sword, a YA historical, to Broadsheet even though I know full well that Broadsheet is for women writers of speculative fiction. Apparently my brain must somehow equate pre-modern times and girls with swords with fantasy. My brain is quite odd. But to be honest, historical fiction has about the same appeals fantasy often holds for me. For the shallow aspects, you've got people wearing fancy clothes and swords and kingdoms and the like, which, unfortunately often turns into derivative junk. But on a deeper level, both of them seem to be about world-building, about creating (or re-creating) a world with enough detail and facts and sensations so that I begin to fully believe that I live there, that I know that world almost as well as I know my own. I know both must have their own difficulties -- creating a world from scratch is very different from trying to resurrect a world from the past. And it must be rather nice to be the only specialist on the world you have created, knowing all the little nooks and crannies that aren't necessarily let out to the reader but are there in the background all the same. Historical fiction is subject to more nitpicking on a purely factual level (much like me sitting and having lots of fun listening to two otaku nitpick The Last Samurai. Ok, I admit, I was doing a good deal of nitpicking in my head as well). But then, having tried to create a world out of scratch in my own head before, I'm not sure which is the scarier option ;). Researching a known period, having facts on your side, is also very comforting (so speaks she who is enamoured of research). Anyhow, historical fiction and solid world-building fantasy occupy the same space in my head, apparently.

But I think the more magical type of fantasy in which the world-building isn't quite as important as the characters and the images is usually equated with fairy tale, fable, myth, and legend.

Still, no wonder I've been on such a fantasy kick after reading Dunnett. And no wonder I keep picking up YA historicals.

Called my mom today. She has been greatly encouraged by the fact that I have seemingly taken her advice and started exercising. Very minimally exercising, but still exercising. So now she has decided that since I do apparently listen to what she says, she should begin urging me to exercise even more! And to cook! *sigh* I should have know caving wouldn't make her stop complaining ;). Oh well. As my boss says, she's a mom. Of course she does this.

I keep almost getting into a big gender-role-inspired rant on why everyone keeps asking me if I cook and why everyone keeps encouraging me to cook. This is particularly annoying when people start offering me American recipes. I'm sure it is meant with the best of intentions, but to be honest, I'm Chinese. I prefer to cook Chinese food. I don't think anyone is really implying anything -- rather, they're all being quite enthusiastic about the things they like to cook, or things they find easy to cook. And I don't want to be snobby or anything. But, I mean, I've eaten Chinese food for most of my life, and the thought of cooking something like a taco salad or meatloaf or the like is much further away than the thought of cooking good rice porridge. I suppose mostly it's people of good intention not quite realizing that, to me, Chinese food is comfort food, not strange and exotic and difficult to cook. Actually, that's probably a very good metaphor for much of my life -- people tend to assume I'm a fully integrated Asian-American with great knowledge of pop culture and whatnot, which I am not, or they assume I'm a fully integrated Chinese person in Taiwan (before I open my mouth, that is... and not using the term "Taiwanese" because I'm still not quite sure if it is an ethnic label or not, and seeing as how my grandparents are from China...), which I am also not. Mostly I feel like a person for whom all things are vaguely foreign and exotic. Anyhow, back to the almost-rant. I keep wanting to start ranting on why people only seem to push me to cook, and not the boy, but luckily the boy has nipped this mid-bud and said his parents annoy him about it too. Although sometimes when I am there, it feels suspiciously as though they are urging me to cook for him, which is vaguely creepy.

In other news, I have found out that I sort of know [livejournal.com profile] fannishly's cousin from Taiwan!!!! OMG SO WEIRD!! SO COOL!! And I had no idea when I found her LJ (or she found mine)!! The internet (and Taiwan) is a very small world indeed. Actually, I attribute this more to the Taiwan factor, since apparently everyone with some sort of connection to Taiwan who has ever been in America will somehow end up connected with someone else I know with a connection to Taiwan. And if you think I'm bad, it's ten times more extreme with my parents. I used to joke that my dad would meet someone he knew every time he walked through an airport.

Randomly: Is there any sort of good "how to write book reviews" website ala all those good "how to write sci-fi/fantasy" sites out there? Nyargh, must remember not to be too ambitious, but I suppose there is no harm in trying, yes?

Date: 2004-11-16 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luned.livejournal.com
If you find a book review tutorial, please link it. I've just discovered how dreadfully out of practice I am on that matter.

(I hope you don't mind me reading your LJ. I noticed your book notes, and found them interesting.)

Date: 2004-11-17 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wizened-cynic.livejournal.com
I'm a random passerby (and fan of Joan of Arcadia), and I'd like to chime in on your remark that "people tend to assume I'm a fully integrated Asian-American with great knowledge of pop culture and whatnot, which I am not, or they assume I'm a fully integrated Chinese person in Taiwan ... which I am also not". I'm Chinese too (by way of Hong Kong and not Taiwan however) and I get that A LOT. It irks me to death. I don't know why people never seem to believe that there is middle ground for people like us.

Date: 2004-11-17 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com
Korean, not Chinese, but I've gotten that too. Some of my classmates in high school (it was an international Western-style school in South Korea) would visit the US during the summer, and I remember one reporting that people kept assuming he was an expert in kung fu or karate or something because he was Asian, even if he knew nothing about martial arts.

And [livejournal.com profile] oyceter, get the rant out of your system sometime. I get snarly when in-laws ask, "What you been cooking for Joe?" Because, of course, I never need sustenance, and he is incapable of cooking. (He's been cooking at a subsistence level longer than I have!) Or my dad with his "You should buy a small grill and cook steak for Joe." Joe's response: "I don't even like steak that much! Why?" Yes, why? Roar. Stupid gender assumptions.

Date: 2004-11-17 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com
What kinds of things did the okatu pick apart about Last Samurai? (And you, for that matter?)

Date: 2004-11-20 07:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com
Thanks for the link--I finally got to read your initial response.

I don't disagree with anything, though I have to admit I just loved the movie.

Date: 2004-11-21 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com
I wish I did more, but it's sort of hard to get out of the habit of nitpicking all the historical details when I spent all of college doing that, especially after taking a class on Japanese film and talking about assorted issues on romanticizing Japan and the like. Sadly, sometimes scholarship just gets in the way of enjoyments

This is true. I know just enough about Japanese history to have appreciated some of the detail work the film did, but not enough to catch the little stuff...whereas I can find all the little errors in Persuasion which is otherwise a good film, but every tiny alteration of Austen's words tweaked at me, small errors of usage jolted, and the ending, with the kiss and the weird parade, drove me batshit.

Date: 2004-11-17 06:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com
I totally agree about the worldbuilding similarities between historicals and fantasies...

cooking (or the lack thereof)

Date: 2004-11-17 08:00 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
i hate cooking with a passion. when i'm hungry, i just want to eat. who has time to whip up some gourmet meal?? who has time to learn how to whip up a gourmet meal?? okay, maybe it's just me. but still, i'm very up front about it. i say that i don't like cooking, don't expect me to like cooking or to cook for anyone, for that matter, that i'd much rather find a guy who likes to cook. luckily for me, my guy friends love to cook and are 10x better at it than I am.

(anlee)

Date: 2004-11-17 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com
I've eaten Chinese food for most of my life, and the thought of cooking something like a taco salad or meatloaf or the like is much further away than the thought of cooking good rice porridge.

So? I grew up in the American midwest. I spent the 1970s cooking exotic-to-me dishes that I'd never even eaten before; I relied on cookbooks. I ate Thai long before there were Thai restaurants on every streetcorner.

The reason I'm saying all this is that ma po dou fu is now one of my comfort foods, even though I never tasted it before I was twenty. You might discover something equally wonderful to you.

Date: 2004-11-17 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com
Start keeping your eye out for a used copy of "Mrs. Chiang's Szechuan Cookbook". It's the Mastering The Art of French Cooking of Szechuan food; very, very detailed recipes, with techniques and ingredients. (I don't know what flavor of Chinese you are/you eat, so Szechuan may not be helpful!)

Date: 2004-11-17 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skylee.livejournal.com
"people tend to assume I'm a fully integrated Asian-American with great knowledge of pop culture and whatnot, which I am not, or they assume I'm a fully integrated Chinese person in Taiwan ... which I am also not".

That's my experience as well. When I'm in Australia, some would treat me as a foreigner (when I've actually grown up here), but I also don't quite fit in when I'm in Hong Kong either. It irks me sometimes that people would just assume that I'm not fully integrated, but then it also irks me sometimes that people would assume that I'm integreated.

That probably didn't make any sense did it? ;-)

Date: 2004-11-17 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wizened-cynic.livejournal.com
Actually, it makes perfect sense to me. I don't usually get treated like a foreigner in Canada (because, they tell me, I LOOK like I was born here) but I totally feel that people in Hong Kong can automatically pick me out of a crowd and see that I'm not from there. I'm not irked as much as I am amused by how and why these people jump to conclusions about me. It kind of sucks, though, since it's hard to find people who are acquainted with both North American and Asian fandoms.

Date: 2004-11-17 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wizened-cynic.livejournal.com
It's definitely the way *I* dress. I find some of the fashion in East Asia to be slightly ridiculous, and very uncomfortable.

now it's changing a little, with the giant influx of manga and anime here

I'm amazed to discover that many of my friends, both online and RL, are becoming interested in anime, especially since I'm not particularly a fan myself.

I've managed to convince some of my Hong Kong friends to watch American TV such as Alias, and they've responded positively (sadly, Buffy and JOA and non-action/cop shows are not widely available over there).

Date: 2004-11-19 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skylee.livejournal.com
I think Alias is shown on TV over there on Pearl. I remember watching it over there one year during X'Mas, heh. But you're right, Buffy or other non-action shows aren't even shown there, like, ever. =(

Date: 2004-11-19 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wizened-cynic.livejournal.com
Yeah, Alias is on Pearl, I watched the beginning of Season 3 there this past summer. They don't have Buffy, but ATV completely ripped off it and made "My Date with a Vampire," which I have yet to learn to like.

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