Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Once again, reading segments while in transit, I finished Gaiman's Stardust. A fairy tale for adults and a very easy-going read. 2 worlds, 1 cold, mundane, pragmatic, the other wondrous, full of life and surprises, and hidden dangers. 1 young man standing between both worlds and forced to choose between one or the other. As things go, the choice is not a hard one to make. He goes where he becomes most involved, where he has suffered the most, and where his heart's desire lives (literally speaking).

Tristran is a most peculiar boy who does not pursue his birthright until he is himself good and ready to do so. Most of the time he's ignorant of who he is anyway, but even when he does find out he absolutely refuses to claim what's his until he's settled all his other prior obligations first. 'Prior' here means having nothing to do with what he was born to do. So, a bit of a deviation from the regular fairy-tales that simplify destiny to a simple process of wanting and having.

The invocation of children's nursery rhymes as powerful event controllers is similar to that in Alice: Through the Looking-Glass, and the one rhyme, "The Lion and the Unicorn," is exactly the same rhyme Alice invoked, though the version in Stardust appears to have been re-worded to acknowledge the Lion's victory over the unicorn. But political power is fleeting -- the lion accepts his crown and is never mentioned in the tale again, while the loser, the unicorn, plays a major role in saving the life of Tristran's fallen star. The power of love, apparently, triumphs in the long run.

Complications in the relationship of Tristran and his star arise, but are quickly and cleanly resolved. Misunderstandings and misreading of messages occur but there is no time wasted in hand-wringing long-drawn out melodrama as these plot devices might be overplayed in Hong Kong TV serials. I guess people who love this sort of maudlin are going to feel cheated emotionally, but I think it just gets in the way of a good story.

Didn't get to watch AVP again today. Came back too late, but June prepared a nice seafood soup using fresh fish and frozen oysters (mmm...). Considering the small plate of mee rebus this afternoon was all I had to eat all day, a hot home cooked meal was most welcome.

Oh, the mee rebus came from the reception for Mr Niam, Number One guy from HDB who came to visit us and talk with the JC1s about "Principles of Governance." We shouldn't have worried that the Q&A session would be totally silent. The JC1s asked some politically touchy questions which our guest had to respond to very carefully. For example, the succession of LSL as PM, the casino conundrum, and the lowering of CSL standards as a qualifying criterion for uni admission. While the questions were thought-provoking, the questioners appeared a little belligerent (despite the reminder this morning), like they actually cared about getting a satisfactory answer to their query. Their words were polite enough, but their tone suggested otherwise. Interesting bunch, our JC1s.

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