March Recap – A Month of re-reading and remembering

And here we are again, at the end of yet another month. This has been a hectic and life-changing one… cannot write why yet here, although most of my friends do know ;-p

Anyways, there is always time for reading of course. Nothing changes that. And this month’s reading list has reflected some things which took place in March, and will be taking place in April, as well.

1. Heir to the Shadows – Anne Bishop – The Black Jewels Trilogy 2

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I tried. I really did. Just as I tried to read this series some years ago, and had to just stop in the middle. The plot has so much potential, but the characters are so darn cardboard, two-dimensional and plain BORING as to make one want to scream. The men are all so good looking, hot and dangerous… even though they never actually do something bad, we hear so much again and again about them being evil. Same goes with the ‘Queens’ who are supposed to have so much power, yet the only thing they seem to be able to think about is sex. The main character is a teenage queen who has suffered and been raped at the hands of bad men, whom, in an ‘I spit on your grave’ kind of rage she hounds down and punishes. On the other hand everyone loves her and fears her because she’s so beautiful and powerful… yet again, she does nothing.. ugh BORING BORING BORING

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2. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

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After being mired in Bishop, I just had to read something AWESOME, and this is why I decided to re-read Rothfuss. Yes, another book I had already read before, so what? Rothfuss simply enchants me, his plot-lines, his characters, his style of writing, are all simply amazingly detailed and cunningly wrought. Now THIS is a real writer!

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3. The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

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A continuation of ‘The Name of the Wind’, in this second installment, the main character, now a young man, still tries to come to terms with his studies, while navigating the cruel and manipulative society he is in. Mired in plots and hidden agendas, he does his best to pursue his thirst for knowledge about the Chandrian, who had killed his parents, while at the same time being that endearing, infuriating rogue we all know and love.

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4. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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In March, Terry Pratchett, one of the greatest contemporary writers of our times, died. I really cried, knowing that his talent was gone forever and that I would never meet him, yet I also rejoiced in his works. I simply had to re-read Good Omens, and laugh, snigger, and gasp, whenever Terry and Neil did. Now THIS is one book about religion which really hits the spot lofl. Parody and satire a-la-carte.

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5.The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon – Stephen King

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King did a really good writing workshop and exercise with this one. A girl is lost in the woods. Days pass. She struggles to survive. In the end, she is found. Basically nothing else happens. And everything. You must read it to understand. This rite of passage makes ‘Survivor’ looks like a kindergarden child’s drawing. And I say it again, notwithstanding his popularity and ‘mainstream’ image, Stephen King is a writer to be reckoned with!

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6. A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin – Game of Thrones Book 4

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And finally, since in a couple of weeks, the Game of Thrones series will be continuing on HBO, and as the writer revealed, there will be many new surprises even for readers, I decided to re-read the last two GOT novels in order to refresh my mind and hunger for it once again. WHEN IS THE BLOODY 6TH BOOK COMING OUT??

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And then there was the PENIS!

Ever since I started writing this blog, around three months ago, I’ve written about all the subject and issues under the sun. I’ve covered personal issues, favorite movies and T.V shows, reading material, work issues, social criticism, and even Maltese recipes.

I must say, I was pleased and flattered when I realized I had a certain following, especially from readers from the U.S.

Yesterday, I typed the magical word ‘PENIS’ onto a title of just one of my posts, and not even one of the most interesting ones at that, yet almost immediately, viewings soared to an amazing rate, especially from my country of origin – Malta.

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Each of my blog posts is automatically shared on my Facebook page, which is how I also know that probably most of these Maltese people who read my PENIS-related post, are people I know. I also realized that the title might be somewhat misleading, in that it might lead some individuals to think that I am writing about my own personal sex-life.

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Obviously, those who read the entire article, soon understand that it has nothing to do with me at all, being merely an observation regarding a certain issue which might crop up with guys who are afraid of commitment, and which was brought on by me watching an episode from a certain T.V series. However it’s really amazing the way people’s minds work. They were not interested in my philosophical meanderings, in my thoughts about life, in my views on society or criticism of works of art. No, the only thing they were interested about was… well… PENISES.

Lol, there’s the magical word again in the title.

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Will I get as many hits today? ;p

Why does a Penis get floppy during Sex?

Yesterday I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy with my bf (yes, I like Grey’s Anatomy – shoot me ;p), and one of the characters started dating an ex model, whom he liked a lot. This guy was known for being a bit of a Casanova, as well as for his sexual prowess, however when he came to do the deed with this girl – he flopped. Literally.

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The issue apparently was emotion-related. The guy was so used to having one-night stands and sport-sex, that when he tried doing it with someone whom he honestly cared about, he just couldn’t.

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And this got me thinking. Usually, most people tend to function better sexually when they do the act with someone they are in love with or at least feel SOMETHING about. That is the usual idea. On the other hand, this does not mean we never have good sex with people who are just random or whose main attraction is physical, and not emotional. I’m not saying that, however mostly we all agree that when there is emotional depth involved as well, the experience is better on many levels.

The guy in the series was aware of this… too much so in fact. He could take emotionless sexual intercourse, what he could not take was having feelings for someone else. The feelings coupled with the sexual attraction were just too much, and he was scared off. We might think of this situation as a fluke, but it really isn’t.

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Think about it – how many people do you know who are afraid of committing themselves emotionally? One night stands are easy. You meet someone in a bar, you hook up, you make out, you get sweaty and excited for a couple of hours, and then it’s over. The other person goes their own way, and you are free to continue your life as you usually do. Nothing has changed. You had an itch, and scratched it. That’s all.

When emotions are involved, it’s an entire kettle of fish. You know you could get hurt. You know that if that person rejects you, your disappointment will probably affect your self-esteem. You are investing time, moods, and feelings over someone who, no matter how you look at it, is a stranger, and are giving him/her power over you.

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That is what it actually boils down to. When you feel something for someone, you give them power over you. Sex is just sex. Feelings are something else.

Which is why, I guess, the guy from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ couldn’t get his dick up. Fear is a great lust deterrent. However without fear, without the threat of loosing something precious to us, without putting our heart and emotions on the line – would life be worth living?

I’m not saying that each time your partner’s penis is flaccid and can’t make it, that means he’s afraid of what he feels for you. He could be tired, sick, or plain not in the mood. However when you go out with someone new, and you are about to do it for the first time, if he can’t get it up… that’s something else.

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A Health Diet which works! Finally!

Almost four weeks ago, I started dieting. It is a healthy diet, unlike the fads I followed when I was younger. What’s more, it genuinely seems to be working, since I lost 4kgs in almost 4 weeks.

Yay me!

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To be honest, I’ve never been so chubby in my whole life. A little bit over two years ago, I finally rented a place of my own, and it was then that I started to get sloppy. I watched my bf eat huge quantities of food, and that sparked on my own appetite… and here we are. Two years and almost 10 kilos later, I was totally FED UP with myself. And I just decided to stop.

Stop eating shit, stop ‘comforting’ myself with food through spells of bad moods (of which I have many), stop giving myself treats, stop eating big portions. Right now, I’m following a fairly simple regime. I eat 100g of proteins (either fish or chicken breast) togather with some carbohydrates, like a wrap or pitta bread, every three hours. The portions are VERY small. I do not eat bread, salami, dairy-food or pasta. I do not eat sweets or snacks. I do not eat any carbs after 6pm (mostly I have a solo piece of chicken or some soup after 6).

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It’s tough. I am very hungry at night, and I’m sleeping earlier to try and forget that. Most of all, I’m getting really sick of chicken breast. And I mean literally sick. To my stomach. Even the smell makes me wants to throw up.

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But here’s the rub – it’s working! 4kgs gone, 6kgs more to go. If I can keep this up for another month and a half, I’ll be right back where I want to be… oh la Dolce Vita – I’ll be able to really enjoy Summer lolling at the beach and strolling half naked everywhere – that is, if I manage to regain my figure.

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So, fingers crossed and teeth clenched! Let’s diet!

The Secret Sin of Writing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that what sells, and GOOD WRITING are two very different things. It is also a fact that most artistic geniuses, which are freely viewed as such today, were nobodies when they were alive, and in fact many of them were unbelievably poor and wretched.

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Not all of them of course, Charles Dickens, being a carismatic charmer, made more money out of his public readings, which advertised his own writing skills, than from his journalistic writings. Mozart, who was a child-prodigy, wowed the nobility with his precociousness, and Lord Byron was also well-known not only for his boyish Casanova-like behavior, but also for his poetry and grace. These however are just flukes, and not the norm at all.

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What sells is what magazines and newspapers look for. What sells is the thing most Editors really consider when reading a draft for the first time. Shakespeare was a struggling playwright in his time – one of the many trying to gain the attention of the nobility to earn a living. The same could be said for Marlowe, Blake and many other such artistic geniuses. They tried to find a balance between pleasing the masses and being true to their art. One wonders what great artistic treasures they could have produced, had they not been constrained by the need to earn money through the use of their talent.

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I need money. Doesn’t everyone? Now more than ever, I need money. This is the point in my life where I think, I will need money most. That is why I totally understand how and why a writer, a musician, an artist, sometimes has to prostitute his or her talent. It does not mean I like it. Hopefully, it will not always be so. I will always need money of course, but I dream of a time in future, when I will be comfortable enough to at least relegate my office hours to work, and then afterwards be free to write whatever I want, for the sole pleasure of writing it, and not for any other ulterior motives.

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Of course, if others like reading what I write, and I make a gazzillion euros out of it, I won’t complain either ;p

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Finally finished writing 5 articles on French Castles!

Finally I have finished writing five articles on five of the castles I visited during my holiday in Southern France last month. Will be uploading the link when they are published online.

For now, here are some pics 😀

Ohhh…. memories, memories. Wish I was still there!

1. The Lastours Castles – now that was ONE HELL OF A CLIMB! A once in a lifetime opportunity… thank all the gods lol

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2. The Chateau de Peyrepertuse – Another Cathar Castle (and another climb) – beautiful!

Chateau bas de Peyrepertuse3. The Chateau de Queribus

images (1)4. Chateau de Comtal in the City of Carcassonne – Medieval wow!!

download5. The Fort de Salses – almost on the border with Spain! YES i do get around! ;p

download (1)And what’s more, I have more French architecture in store! Asked the publisher whether he was interested in more articles on France, since I visited many more places while I was there. Let’s see what he replies! Fingers crossed!

An Unconventional Saint Patrick’s – One Day Later!

Alright – I SUCCUMB!

I’ve been reading posts about St Paddy’s, its origins, and how people got shitfaced all through yesterday. I promised myself I wouldn’t post anything relevant on MY blog… but… here we go! lol

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When I was younger (that is, up to three/four years ago hehe), I used to take the day after Saint Paddy’s off. After all – it was impossible to wake up for work at 6am, when you got back home, drunk and disorderly, at 4.30am right? The 18th of March was usually spent asleep and/or vomiting repeatedly in a plastic bucket and/or nursing an enormous headache while trying to nibble at some salty crackers.

Fast forward to the new me – living in my own apartment, with a steady income, a steady relationship and a penchant for loooon looong holidays abroad (therefore needing all the accumulated time-off and vacation days I can spare), and I’m not doing that anymore… HOWEVER…

Seeing that in around a month and a half it’s my bf’s bday, and that I honestly didn’t know what to get him as a bday present, I had the absolutely fantastic idea of gifting him with a weekend break at a great hotel + spa we love and whose food is just awesome, and combine that with St Paddy’s! So, as of tonight, here we go!

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Quite an early surprise for someone whose bday is in May – true, HOWEVER due to other unforseen circumstances, we’ll be quite up to our ears in other stuff in May (more about this later on, as we’re keeping it kind of low-key for now), PLUS we really needed this break – sort of like the calm before the stress-storm hits.

Anyways, to get back to my original issue, since we did not celebrate St Paddy’s yesterday eve like the rest of the planet, as we had to wake up early this morning, we are going to celebrate it in grand style tonight in our hotel room after a luxurious Mediterranean all-you-can-eat buffet. Is there something better than getting drunk in bed with your boyfriend/best friend?

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YES

I just remembered one of the most GODDAMN AWFUL Horror Comedies everrrrr – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgjsTzwlU4

Gods, I just adore honest trailers. Anyways, I’m going to download this as soon as I get home, and WE ARE GONNA PLAY THE DRINKING GAME!!!

Oh boy, so looking forward to that ;p

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Then tomorrow, we can detoxify with another free-for-all buffet (this time, for breakfast), and go relax in the pool and jakuzzi for a couple of hours, before heading to the spa where I have booked us in for a couples’ massage… hmmm…

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The Times of Malta vs the Rise of my STRESS levels!

When I was younger, I used to love perusing the magazines which came with one of Malta’s most popular newspapers – The Times of Malta, not to mention the daily comic. As I grew up, I discovered the online website, which presents all current articles in an easy-to-access, friendly structure.

And there, began the trouble.

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The issue as such did not stem from my reading current affairs (although that in itself is enough to turn anyone’s hair white), but in reading the many IGNORANT, NARROW-MINDED and HYPOCRITICAL comments spouted by most of those who, having nothing better to do with their days, spend an inexplicable amount of time not just commenting on each article, but actually bickering and fighting amongst themselves. These people don’t even know each other – most of them use, in fact, a nom de plume, and yet, the same ‘names’ continue cropping up again and again, often voicing not just opinions pertaining to the article itself, but always steering the conversation towards political themes, religious fanaticism, or even personal name-calling.

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Faced with this HUGE evidence of my own country’s stupidity, each time I read an article, I promise myself to NOT EVEN PEEK at the darn comments… since I’m aware that if I do so, I will inevitably start to fume at the ears, not due the fact that I would have a different opinion (everyone is entitled to their own views after all), but because the blatant shortsighted, senseless, and most of the time irrelevant tosh thrown pell-mell all over the place by such ludicrous and mindless individuals, just makes me want to vomit. I don’t know why I sweat it so much, I mean it won’t make any difference to me personally that Cikku tal-pastizzi is a misogynistic asshole, or that Doris tal-haxix is just a bitchy twerp waiting for an excuse to roll her eyes at everyone. I should be resigned to the hopeless fact that unfortunately, most Maltese village-idiots, not to mention wanna-be posh bullshitters, are just like that.

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Except that apparently, no matter how my brain signals to little opinionated me that that is the case, I still hear my unadultarated voice shriek in indignant rage whenever I’m faced with such insurmountable obtuseness.

Because that is the worst I think – not that someone is stupid… after all everyone can learn, but that they DO NOT WANT TO. Most people, if told by their grandmother that the earth is flat, that washing their hair with egg-yolk makes it shinier, and that anyone who doesn’t go to mass three times a week is evil, just take all this clap-trap at face value without ever questioning or even being interested in thinking of the ‘why’.

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Here is an obvious example http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150317/local/mum-who-left-baby-in-car-to-be-charged.560248

This article concerns a woman who left her baby unattended in her car. We have all heard stories of how awful and detrimental this can be to a small child’s health, particularly in hot countries like Malta and Italy. Anyone who leaves their child, or a pet, unattended in such conditions is guilty of massive negligence, and we all agree on that. HOWEVER, just look at those comments! To quote:

‘Unbelievable ! – But as the saying goes … You can take the woman out of Africa, but you can’t take Africa out of the woman.’

‘You can’t take the jungle out of certain people.’

‘single mother huh?’

SERIOUSLY? So you think that just because the person is colored, is not Maltese, and is a single mother, she obviously does not know any better? What about all such other cases which happened in Italy, Britain, and many other countries? Were they all single mothers? OF COURSE NOT! That has nothing to do with it!

Meh… talk about labeling and racial intolerance!!

Now tell me again… how on earth can I keep my stress-levels in check after reading such bs??

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Movie Review – Raise the Red Lantern – Spoilers

Movie Title: Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
Personal Grading: 4 Stars
Historical Timeline: 1920s
Location: China

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This film touched me and made quite an impression on me for various reasons. First of all, I love historical dramas, especially those which portray a non-European perspective. I love learning more about different cultures and customs, especially as these were lived in times past.

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Raise the Red Lantern focuses on the life of a nineteen year old girl Songlian who, pressured due to her family’s poverty and her father’s death, decides to become a rich man’s concubine. She is his fourth concubine in fact, and the whole film takes place in the ‘Master’s’ house. We never see the outside of the house after the film’s five minute introduction, and neither does the main character. Although the cast of the film is limited, this is very in-line with the story and plot-line, seeing as to how we experience life as the main character does. She is isolated, lonely, and cannot decide what is the reality or who is deceiving her. We never see the ‘Master’s’ face. This is very symbolical. In the 1920’s this was how society treated women – this was how concubines were expected to live – who the Master was, was not important. The women’s lives centered on his every whim and desire. The four concubines live togather in different sections of the vast beautiful house. Traditionally Chinese, their life is structured according to family ritual, and yet they still silently hate and compete with one another.

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The First mistress is old and her son is the Master’s heir and is always away. The second mistress, whom at first we think is kind and nice, is in reality a scorpion, egging on people against Songlian. The third concubine, still young and beautiful, had once been an opera singer, is very creative, and is secretly in love with a young doctor. The Master decides who is in favor by placing red lanterns in front of the ‘house’ belonging to the mistress who will pleasure him for the night. The chosen one gets a foot massage, chooses the menu for the following day, and crows in victory over the others.

The storyline is not complicated, yet has a certain horrific quality to it. Combine this to the fact that we know this is what really happened during this period in time, is the soul-crushing certainity of each of the mistresses that she will never get out of that house. Her body, her time, her life, belongs to the Master and is his to dispose of. This is blatantly obvious when he orders the killing of the Third Mistress, after she is discovered to be cheating on him. At the end, the main character is mentally and emotionally shattered, preferring the life of a mad recluse to that of a concubine forced to live life in constant rivalry in a world where there is really no escape.

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This film is very poignant and well executed. I do not think the casual movie-watcher will appreciate it, as it is quite slow-moving and full of Chinese rituals and traditions which are not all fully explained. I loved it since I am very interested in Asian cultures, and love anime, therefore having watched and read about these kind of traditions before. It is a very psychological film too. What is not said, is more important than what is actually uttered. A true gem of its kind.

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The film is based on the novel ‘Wives and Concubines’ by Su Tong.