Archive for the 'Highlights from Previous Posts' Category

What’s the point of a non-stinky durian?!

durian.jpg The durian is a South East Asian fruit that is so stinky it is banned from airplanes and smart hotels. The smell lingers like a bad fart combined with the ripest blue chees and crusty hard fetid socks that have been worn for weeks in hot humid weather without a change. Mmmmmm! I bet that’s made your mouth water.

But that’s what Asians - and in particular, Malaysians - love about the fruit. The smell is hideous. But as you eat the sticky, custardy, soft flesh, the taste is aromatic and sweet and creamy. And then you have to live with the most dreadful halitosis rotting sewer breath for hours on end.

So some smart guy has come up with a variety of durian that doesn’t smell. Thai scientist Songpol Somsri apparently spent 30 years of his life researching this project, according to the Seattle Times. The article goes on to say that in Malaysia, durian is prized as an aphrodisiac and a farmer is quoted as saying, “If the durian doesn’t have a strong smell the customer only pays one-third the price.”

I picked up this story from Seth Godin, the marketing guru, who uses it to make a great analogy for marketers who try to fix what they perceive as a problem - by focusing on the people who are not buying the product. So marketers aim to fix the problems in order to get the non-buyers to become buyers - in the meantime, destroying the key qualities that the enthusiastic existing buyers rave about and thereby turning away their core customers.

Personally I’m not a great fan and whenever my family have a great durian feast, I have to keep my distance from them all when we’re chatting afterwards! Still, it seems unnatural and sacriligeous to be tampering with the distinctive quality that makes a durian a durian. I’m not sure I’d eat more durian if I was offered the non-stinky variety - the taste and texture of the eating experience just doesn’t do it for me. I’m much more of a mango fan and I’d choose mango over any other fruit any day. So I guess I’m inclined to agree with Seth. What’s the point of a non-stinky durian if the core customers don’t want it - and neither do the ones who never wanted it in the first place?

Photo: thanks to the Seattle Times

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 1:00am

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Fusion View Tweets on Twitter

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You can follow my Tweets on Twitter from this page. (Twitter can be slow due to huge volume of traffic so it may take awhile for the feed to upload - apologies.)

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Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Sunday, March 18th, 2007 at 11:25am

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Eldest daughters

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Marina Mahathir, the internationally respected Malaysian writer and journalist, circulated an email to Malaysian bloggers for International Womens Day. She writes, “March 8 is International Women’s Day. In solidarity with women all over the world, we would like to invite all Malaysian women bloggers ( and pro-women men bloggers) to celebrate this special day by appending the attached IWD logo and linking your blogsite to the IWD website (this is a condition of using the logo) at http://www.internationalwomensday.com. We would also like you to dedicate a post (or more) to yourself, the women in your lives or simply to ruminate on the state of women today. Let’s do it collectively and simultaneously on March 8.”

This post is dedicated to the eldest daughters who came before me.

My Grandma, my Mum’s mother, had always been for me a strong, dignified presence in the family. We did not always see eye to eye and as a girl, I sulked whenever she tried to correct my posture whenever I slouched. But I always loved and respected her and loved to hear the stories she would tell about her childhood in China, the clever eldest daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She passed on that love of storytelling to my Mum, her eldest daughter, who also filled my childhood with stories about her own childhood, about our family and also about the books she had read and the films she had seen.

I did not know my Great-Grandmother very well although she lived till I was a young teenager. She spoke Teochew, a dialect of Chinese that I did not speak and I was most comfortable communicating in English. The strongest image I have of her is the story that Grandma told me of how her mother was a young girl washing clothes in a river in China when my Great-Grandfather, a young man studying at the nearby seminary, came upon her while on a walk with his friends. Their eyes met across the dancing waters and well, here we all are, generations later.

I found this photo below of the four eldest daughters. On the far left is my mother, aged 24 at the time. Next to her is my Great-Grandmother, Grandma’s mother, who would have been around 80 then. Then there’s Grandma in the polka dot cheong sam, aged 49. Finally, there is me - just under 1 year old then. Today, I am not far off the age Grandma was at the time of the photo - but still slouching, I’m afraid.

Grandma loved this photo of us all and she would often look at it with me over the years. She would say to me, “You are the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter.” It makes me feel proud still.

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Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 10:39pm

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KL Book Events - the photos (2)

Here are some pics from the Readings event on the Saturday afternoon, when I had the privilege of reading my work alongside talented, local writers.

Pic 4: With Sharanya Mannivanan, poet, and Eric Forbes
Pic 5: With Wong Pui Nam, celebrated playwright; Shan Mughalingam, well-known writer and his friend Christina
Pic 6: With Ted Mahsun, writer and blogger and his friend, Amina
Pic 7: With Mike, journalist for The Star and blogger
Pic 8: With Sharon Bakar, literary hub of the KL writing scene and Chet, writer
Pic 9: Reading from my work in progress

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For other write-ups of the events by KL bloggers, see:

Kenny Mah’s blog - Kenny is a talented photographer and graphic designer in his spare time, in between blogging and writing and his day job. It looks like he may have found himself a new career as his recent photos and banner designs have resulted in some commissions to design book covers and posters for local books and events.

Sharanya Mannivanan’s blog - Sharanya is a young and impressive poet with one chap book to her name. She is working on her first novel and read an extract at the Litbloggers Breakfast - she has a strong command of language and imagery.

KG’s blog - KG is a writer and blogger, among many other talents. As it turns out, before he started poetic, literary writing, he wrote thrillers, too - very eclectic!

Xeus’s blog - Xeus is the pseudonym of Lynette Kwan, author of the macabre collection of short stories, Dark City. She has been inspired by our discussion on the state of Malaysian writing at the breakfast club to start a writers circle for Malaysian writers to critique each other’s work and mentor each other. Great stuff!

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 at 7:01am

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The Theory of Everything - James Wood Interview (podcast)

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For the first post of 2007 here on Fusion View, I interview the poet James Wood who recently downshifted from a high-octane life in London to the more peaceful and arty setting of Edinburgh to devote more time to his poetry.

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You can listen to the interview using the grey podcast-player at the end of this post.

You can also receive this and future Fusion View Podcasts free via iTunes - click on the lavender logo just here.podcastLogo.gif

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James also reads from his poem “Thursday” which is published for the first time here on Fusion View:

Thursday

A man walks out of a station to meet his friends,
Not expecting anything - he’s not hungry or thirsty,
The late summer sky is overcast, but that’s OK.
Cars move past, people are shopping, glasses on the tables

And newspapers in their stands. “How nice to see you”-
But it’s not them. It’s her, her from long ago,
When he’d had half a mind to have a life
So different from what he’d cursed, then inherited.

And all the shapely body no tittle gone astray
Is what comes to mind as he tries and fails
To force himself to look into her eyes, says all the wrong
Things too quickly, too slow in getting in there

With that suggested coffee and quick chat
About old times, or what about dinner? Then, like a fairy
From a child’s play-book, she slips away
And his friends appear. Laughter, forks and glasses follow-

They smile and talk about their house prices and careers
Or where they’re going on holiday. He looks
For her to come back past the station, but she doesn’t,
So he sits and waits. Now he’s been waiting for years.

copyright James Wood 2006

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James has kindly donated three copies of his book The Theory of Everything for the Fusion View prize draw, open to all Fusion View email subscribers. To find out how to win a copy, click here.

If you can’t wait and want buy a copy of The Theory of Everything, go to the website of his publishers www.happenstancepress.com. All profits go to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

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Listen Now:


icon for podpress  Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (9055)

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Monday, January 8th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Win a copy of James Wood’s “The Theory of Everything”

Poet James Wood has donated three signed copies of his new poetry collection “The Theory of Everything” for the Fusion View prize draw.

Click here, to find out more about James Wood and listen to my podcast interview with him.

Three winners will be picked at random from the list of email subscribers to Fusion View. To get a chance to win a copy of James’s book, subscribe to this blog. Subscribe now.

Subscription is free and you will receive free email notifications once a week with the latest updates on this blog. You will automatically be entered into the prize draw to win a copy of “The Theory of Everything” and also all future prize draws (unless otherwise stated). For more about how to subscribe/ unsubscribe and my subscription policy,click here.

The closing date for this prize draw is Friday 16 February 2007. You can still subscribe after that date and you will automatically be entered into the next prize draw.

Please read the Rules of the prize draw below.

Yes, please enter me into the prize draw - I want to subscribe now. Click here to subscribe now.


The Rules for the prize draw

1. The closing date for this draw is 16 February 2007. Within two weeks of that date, 3 winners will be picked at random from the list of subscribers.
2. I will notify the winners by separate emails and ask for your name and land address to which to send the prize. I will be entitled to assume that the name and address given is the name and address of the winning subscriber and I will not knowingly post the prize to any other person.
3. When I receive a winner’s land address, I will post the prize to them and delete their land address from my records.
4. I will post the name of the winners on this blog (but not the land address or email address) .
5. I will not enter into any other correspondence or discussion regarding the winners or regarding this or any prize draw and my decision on the winners and prizes is final. You may not substitute the prize offered for anything else.
6. I will post the prizes by the public postal system. I am not liable for any acts or omissions of the postal services in the UK or any other country.
7. Where the address is not in the UK, I am not liable for any taxes, duties, or customs or excise or import requirements that may be applicable in the country of receipt nor for ensuring compliance with any other laws, including but not limited to laws relating to copyright, censorship or any other matters that may arise regarding or in connection with the prize. These remain the liability of the recipient and it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure compliance with the laws of their country.
8. By subscribing / entering this prize draw, you are confirming to me that you are over 18 or that you are over 13 and have the permission of your parent or guardian to subscribe/ enter this draw.
9. Your email address will remain on the subscription list (unless you unsubscribe) and will be entered into all future prize draws (unless otherwise stated). For my subscription policy, click here.

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Monday, January 8th, 2007 at 6:59am

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An Actor’s Life - Walter Plinge interview (Podcast)

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The 1950s was a golden age of repertory theatre in the UK. That was a time when an actor might be playing Shakespeare one week while rehearsing for a Noel Coward play the next week and audiences might see Laurence Olivier in the lead role one night and as the second spear carrier the next night. It was also a key transition point as John Osbourne’s kitchen sink drama Look Back in Anger burst onto the scene to the challenge the established expectation of what theatre should be about. What was it like working as an actor at that important time in English theatre?

This is a special Fusion View podcast for the London Theatre Blog. To hear first hand about life in the theatre in the 1950s, I’ve coaxed actor Walter Plinge out of retirement to tell us about his experiences in repertory theatre during that golden age.

You can listen to the podcast interview by clicking on the grey player at the end of this post.

Or, you can listen to this and other Fusion View podcasts by clicking here.

You can also receive this and future Fusion View Podcasts free via iTunes. podcastLogo.gif

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The London Theatre Blog was created by Andrew Eglinton and is full of information, reviews and opinions about all aspects of theatre, with a special focus on the London theatre scene. To find out more, go to www.londontheatreblog.co.uk.

Photo: scene from Look Back in Anger, thanks to www.gre enspot.info

Listen Now:


icon for podpress  Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (7441)

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 at 7:00am

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What reviewers have said about Fusion View

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I’ve been blogging here at Fusion View since June this year - and before that at a blogspot site. In the few months since then, I’ve been very fortunate to have had many diverse visitors and contributors from all over the world, helping me build a cross-cultural community. I’m delighted to share with you some very generous reviews about Fusion View… See the links below:

“an incredibly rich and inspirational literary site that has gained recognition from fellow artists, writers and the literary web community in general” - 9rules Network

“A truly cross-cultural blog on writing and a whole lot more” - Imagined Community (http://imagined-community.com/blog/?p=29)

“Yang-May Ooi’s excellent East-West writing blog. Well worth a visit.” - Will Buckingham

Photo: from flickr thanks to Pete R

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 at 10:49am

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How many books do you read a year?

I was interviewed by Elizabeth Tai of The Star newspaper, Malaysia on Friday for an article on writing and blogging. She asked for an update on what I’d been doing since my two novels were published (answer: taking a break from serious writing, changing jobs and moving house) and also if I was working on a third novel (answer: yes, very slowly. It’s called “Tianming Traviata” and is an off-beat family drama told in the first person by a feisty, old lady - and is mostly written in Malaysian English). I also talked about Fusion View and the joy of blogging (creating an online community of international writers and artists, including Malaysian writers Lydia Teh and John Ling, to name a few well-known names). She asked what advice I had for Malaysian writers (answer: read widely, keep writing and keep learning. Also, I referred them to my Getting Published series on this blog, which I started when a Malaysian writer asked me how to get published in the UK - although it gives advice to anyone wanting to be published in the UK, I try to focus on issues that would be of particular interest to Malaysian writers).

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Elizabeth asked me for my reaction to the statistic that apparently, Malaysians only read two books a year. Well, as a writer, it makes me depressed. But after I came off the phone, I wondered: can that really be true? There are lots of bookshops - and they are big, too - in all the shopping malls in Malaysia. Can they really be doing hardly any business?

I estmate that I read more than 20 books a year, both fiction and non-fiction - although this year, non-fiction seems to have dominated. How many books do you read a year? Let me know, especially if you are based in Malaysia. Can we prove this statistic wrong?

Even if you’re not Malaysian, please try out the poll below (it’s anonymous) and add your comment as well, if you’d like to share more details about what you are reading or if you have views about reading. I am really curious now to get a sense of how much people are reading - all the more interesting in today’s world of video games and home entertainment centres. Are Fusion View visitors more likely to read books or less so?

I’ll review the results in a couple of weeks and report back.

PS. Elizabeth couldn’t confirm when the article on Fusion View would appear in The Star - if you are based in Malaysia, can you keep an eye out for it and let me know when it comes out? I’m curious, naturally, to know what the article says.

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 at 7:00am

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Potatoes - 1. I say Chip-pizza, you say Chipizza

chipps.jpgI was listening to The Food Programme on Radio 4 the other day and they had two experts on who were debating heatedly about the date when the potato first came to England. They also featured a Slovenian group of Chefs called The Association for the Recognition of Saute Potatoes and Onions as a Main Dish, who travelled round Europe to Potato Festivals cooking up their signature dish. Having a preference for rice generally, I had no idea that people could get so passionate about potatoes.

And then I started thinking about all the recipes that I knew for different types of potato dishes and realised that, for someone who claims to be not so fond of potatoes, I knew quite a number dishes involving the spud. So here is the first in a series of posts all to do with potatoes.

This is a recipe I invented one frosty November lunchtime. It was a Saturday and I was reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, revelling in the heat and atmosphere of the Deep South, while outside, it was grey and chilly. By lunchtime, I was starving and longing for something hot and warming that I could cook and eat quickly so I could get back to my book.

We looked in the fridge and there was very little food. Damn. I needed to go to the supermarket later that afternoon. In the meantime, there was some cheese, a few peppers and onions, a few slices of ham and frozen chips. Everything apart from the frozen chips were ideal for pizza - but I couldn’t be bothered to get the flour out and make the base.

Wait. What about chip-pizza?

1. Lay out the frozen chips on a baking tray as you would normally
2. Sprinkle on top of the chips chopped peppers and onions (and in fact, any vegetable that would go well on pizza) - and garlic
3. Tear up and sprinkle the pieces of ham on top (or any other meat that you might put on pizza eg salami, pepperoni etc)
4. Grate the cheese (cheddar works well) and spread evenly over the top of it all
5. Bake in a medium oven for 30-40 mins

When you take it out, you will have melted bubbling cheese over the chips and pizza ingredients. Serve with tomato ketchup a la Jackson Pollock squirted all over the tasty pile.

You could bake the chips bare for 20 mins first to get them a bit browner and then take them out and action items 2-4 above. Then put it all back in for another 10-15 mins.

Either way, you end up with a quick, yummy dish that’s great to eat on your own or for sharing with friends (especially while watching a DVD at home) - but hideously naughty if you are worried about your figure…!

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 at 7:00am

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Fusion View is created by Yang-May Ooi, author of The Flame Tree and Mindgame, legal thrillers set in Malaysia and London, first published by Hodder & Stoughton.

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