Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Trying to write a poem

[MASSIVE SPOILERS] - Like you care...

I've been meaning to post a poem I've been working on. I haven't, obviously. Why? Because the words can't live up to the inspiration for the piece. I really want to capture that grin that smiles so hard it cries- I want to express the melancholia of the coloured balloon, the darkness of true friendship and the terror of believing in yourself.

I want to pay homage to what is a satisfying children's novel, an allegory for personal growth, and a parody of what we expect from life. Penned by a philosopher; it's an essay about nature, humanity, capitalism and family.

And it's a video game.

Surprised? Probably not. Most of you are familiar with my unwavering interest in the works of Itoi Shigesato, and Nintendo: The Mother series.

I want to tell the story of Mother 3, in all of its heartbreaking, clownish, inspiring splendour. I want to bring you on that journey. But I can't. I'm not Shigesato Itoi. And most of you won't bother to play his magnum opus.

Not wanting to merely transpose its content into film, or printed medium, I resolved to show how the work could withstand the solemnity of reflective prose-poetry. I didn't feel my skills were anywhere close to the necessary standard to pay adequate tribute to Mother 3, so I figured I'd start small. I figured I start with a gimmick.

I'd tell the story in reverse, as a means of conveying the potency of the punch line- I would begin and end with the darkness and confusion. Where the game starts in the idyllic village of Tazmily, sees corruption take hold then would have Earth cleansed, I wanted to paint an image of the darkness receding. I started at the end- or a little before it:

In the mines a boy cries- mother gone, brother in arms
We find child suicide at the end of the arc 
The Blue Marble- the stage opens with potential
Before darkness covers our friends stumbling in dark

In which act did we arrive? The tragic end.

The wording was too strong- I realised the audience hasn't had time to watch events build, and it's jarring to be left with words detailing a very specific despair, belonging to characters as yet unknown. We see a horrific scene, but we can't feel what we're meant to feel. It's just a scene so horrible, it lacks any reality to relate to the reader.

And "potential" runs off the tongue like dry Weet-Bix. It is a mess.

So I tried to capture a different time, just a little earlier in the story, as our heroes are hunting down the opiate that's keeping their fellow man captive:

Next our actors descend on the city of dreams
A farce carved of anachronistic legacy
Culminating in such a perverse wonderland
Its porcine king teaches a love of heresy

Again our film rewinds.

At this point, it became very clear that rhyming might not be such a good idea, especially if I'm going to use words like "legacy" and "heresy". I was too far into the poem and I still hadn't given a glimpse of the cartoonish whimsy present in the source material. Much of Mother 3's power is in its ability to make the player feel uncomfortable at the acts of terror carried out on the literary equivalents of gummi bears - all sugar and smiles. It feels wrong to see these characters, like gummi bears, getting their heads bitten off.

I tried rewriting parts of it, toying with the idea of losing the rhyme, or the meter, or both:

Next our actors descend on the city of dreams, [alight with neon heralds, deception, a lustful projection (projection of what?)- guiding the moths to give up their life]
A farce [One big, new toy] carved of anachronistic legacy, Culminating in such a perverse wonderland
[And at its helm, the] porcine king.

Again our film rewinds (make clear later on?).

With a little tweaking I was happier with the expression of what King P.'s Utopia represented. Mother 3 is at its best when it's telling a fable with the simplicity of Aesop, and the wonderfully vulgar "New Pork City" shows us what happens when the selfish boy next door gets everything he ever wanted.

I poured out and pawed over the verse again, to see what should come before, and where I should go next:

Our actors descend on the city of dreams, 
Alight with neon heralds, deception, a lustful projection- 
Guiding the moths to give up their lives
A monstrous child's toy carved of anachronistic legacy, 
Culminating in such a perverse wonderland- And at its helm, 
The porcine king.

At this point I wasn't sure where I was going with any of it. Should I return to a simple retelling, or could I start with confusion, then win the reader over as I filled in the gaps? Even the phrase "anachronistic legacy" was almost too much- it was mostly word play intended for those in the know- I didn't see myself having time to clarify its literal meaning later in the piece.*

I decided to have a crack at some cold, hard facts. How was I going to introduce the Magypsies? The Mr. Saturns? Rope snake?- all the colourful side characters that make Itoi's world so vibrant and twisted. And I needed to mention love. Love, as in adoration and service and camaraderie and self-sacrifice and loyalty - it needed to be referenced. Mother 3 is about love.

So that's how I started the next verse:

But we see love coagulates at the edges
Trans-gender, no gender, all gender- Magypsies!
Join a pink, mononymous, polysemous race
T'ward a battle of mind and colour and whimsy

It never feels good to start a line with "but". In school they drilled "however" into our heads as the correct and appropriate opening to a statement that runs contrary to the one proceeding it. But "but" fits. And what do you know- I'd returned to both rhyme AND meter.

But how was I to appropriately dissect this verse to explain clearly that I was talking about trans-gender immortals and naive, armless inventors that all carried the same name?

After this point, my lines descended into one-off plot points or turns of phrase that I felt might demonstrate my intentions:

Spines in the ground restore to life- and anaesthetic


The dragon sleeps through the unnatural warfare
I was tired of trying- and I was ashamed that I was tired of trying. 

But it doesn't have an entirely sad ending. I had a different idea- one that was much less painful, but still showed my own desire to deliver a message. It would allow me to explain a little of why Mother 3 stays at the forefront of my topics of discussion.

My decision? To write about my inability to write about Mother 3.

Thanks for reading.


*The "Pig King" built his army with set pieces stolen from different time periods in Earth's "history". The city literally doesn't belong to the time it exists in.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Portal 2 Turret and Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli Piano Sheet Music Book

Thanks, Frase and Adi! It's so nice to be woken by machine-gun fire when a cat accidentally steps in front of this adorable sentry turret from Portal 2. A wonderful wedding gift!

We've had lots of fun listening to the cute comments the turret makes when it's found us, or when we knock it over. There's nothing like hearing "I don't hate you" after you've pushed over this adorable piece of Aperture Science (Read: Think Geek) technology.

Although we're yet to convince 'Cini of its value...

A few things arrived in the post today, and one of which I put straight on the piano stand and tried my best to belt out a tune- to no avail. It'll take me a very long time to get even one of these pretty pieces sounding any good. But I'm sure I'll get a lot of joy out of them when I do.

These are the songs in the book...
...And these...
...And these!
I hope you're having fun somewhere,

Much love,


Friday, 27 January 2012

Australia Day, Franz Porcelain Kathy Ireland Monkey Mischief Teapot, Tintin Market Scene Plastic Coffret and the Mother 2 Piano Book

Australia Day

For most people in Australia, the 26th of January is a day to kick back, have a beer and barbecue with friends and listen to TripleJ count down the Hottest 100. For others, it's a time to raise awareness of what we might be celebrating- "Invasion Day", when the First Fleet landed on our shores. For others still, it's a day to ignorantly lament the growing racial diversity of our nation, while harassing our newest arrivals to this land.

My wife and I were blessed enough to be able to engage in the first option with our beautiful friends, Jo and Richard, and their lovely children, Daniel, Grace and Esther- along with the kitten, Lilly, and the baby bird, Kiwi (which we helped name!).

It was the first truly Australian Australia Day my wife had celebrated, and our first as a married couple. There were Australian flags everywhere, hamburgers shaped like Australia, Pass-The-Parcel dress-ups (I'm hoping we get some of the photos soon) and plenty to drink.

It was great to share in the celebrations of our freedoms and the beauty of this country, and to remember those who aren't as lucky as us, who fight oppression without rest. We're very lucky to have new friends in our new home, not least of all because of their preposterously generous nature. 

My jaw hurt from grinning when this was "awarded" us after the Pass-The-Parcel...

Franz Porcelain Kathy Ireland Monkey Mischief Teapot

This teapot is the first item I fell in love with in the Impress Tea House in Elmore, and still the loveliest teapot I've ever seen. Thank you so very much, Jo and Richard! It will be treasured and it will always remind us of our generous friends up north.

As my brother-in-law once said of me, "I've never seen anyone as enthusiastic about monkeys as him."

Mother 2 Piano Book

Today, in the mail, another piano book arrived, and this one is much more at my current level. Mother 2 (Earthbound) contains some of the best music every written for a videogame, and the simple, but strong melodies lend themselves very well to piano renditions, both simple and complex. It's a beautiful (and cheap) book for anyone who's interested and has some cute images of the original clay models used for the guide book and advertising. You'll probably recognise the four on the back from their plastic reproductions by Banpresto that I recently purchased.

And do you know what I've just noticed? There's a notation guide in the back that teaches beginners how to read music! How cute is that?!

Off I go to play some of this lovely music, but not before I show you the pretty gift I received from my sister after her return from France...

Tintin Market Scene Plastic Coffret

Fiona knows I love Tintin, and I love toys, so she bought me this cute plastic scene of Tintin at the market inspecting the model of the Unicorn. There is an assortment of bric-à-brac modelled around him, with the masts and rigging of the model ship printed on transparent plastic. It's very cute, with Snowy scratching behind his ear. My sister sure knows me well- Thanks Fi!

In the background, on the cardboard display, you can see the pick-pocket, the detective, and at least one thug- it's very cute, indeed.

I hope you take time out to celebrate how lucky you are. Get some friends, and some food, and spend some time enjoying each others' company. I highly recommend it.

See you soon,


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Cowboy Bebop sheet music

Taking a break from toys, and the poems I've been writing - but never from geek-ism - today I present you with my latest project! As you may know, we recently got a piano as a wedding gift, and both of us have been playing almost every day. This morning the piano book I was most excited about arrived!

As you can see, it's the Cowboy Bebop piano book!

Honey likes the smell...
The notation is great for a beginner like me!
Although, without a stiff book stand,
I may need to photocopy all the songs I intend to play...
So pretty!
The first song I shall attempt will be "Flying Teapot"... So wish me luck!



Sunday, 22 January 2012

"We've been here longer than you..!"

...was the reasoning our neighbours gave recently in response to our request that they try not to kill each other- but I think it's also a fair description for most racism. For some reason mistreating others is the right of the majority.

After a most pleasant weekend with my folks, and little sister - making desserts, eating home-made pizzas and watching BBC dramas - we came to a point where officers of the law had to be called in. We established that hands around throats and swinging fists didn't offer the best environment to raise the tiny child that was present, nor guaranteed its safety.

After hearing that line (the title of this post) given as the reason the couple over the fence were entitled to continue their screaming and punching, I started thinking about many things, not least of all my own safety and the potential repercussions for involving the police. After securing all the doors, I gave thanks for the joy my wife and I share and how great it is to know that dedicating our lives to something bigger than ourselves takes away some of the all-consuming self-centredness that constricts the view of many or our neighbours. I hope the couple received the wake-up call they needed, and they might soon see their child's future as something they can rally around, united as a family.

A wonderful present returned to me today after I got it framed. Thank you so much, Jackson. It's beautiful.

Here you see the lead character from Disgaea 4, Valvatorez, along with three other members of the cast. The game so far has been hilarious, and I adore the little figures that came with it, which I showed in an earlier post.

For now, I'd like to return to the home-made pizza, and a lemon tart!

I hope you all get the rest you needed to prepare for the New Year. See you soon!


P.S. Use the following images as an example:

Friday, 20 January 2012

Experimental cooking

After the last post about my Chocolate Pudding recipe, I thought to myself, I really should upload more experiments... Especially when they work! And yesterday I was lucky enough to succeed with two more.

The first was a complete success! I loosely followed a chocolate biscuit recipe and modified it in an attempt to make it into a "rocky road" biscuit. I increased the cooking time, after adding lovely things like nuts, glace cherries and white choc chips.

As you can see (but not taste, sadly) they turned out pretty enough, and they were delicious, too!

The second experiment was in the vein of Sophie Grigson's Parmesan Cake, but with tomato, curry powder, black and white pepper, and various other goodies. Next time I make it (and I will!) I'll add more baking powder to compensate for all the extra wet ingredients and flour. I compensated, but not quite enough. For some reason, when it's heated up, it loses its denseness, and I imagine it would taste marvellous with Vegemite.

*Edit* It does!

We had a wonderful dinner at our friends' new house, and I'm looking forward to sharing many more. One thing that spooked me was a cat we saw in the house next door. Now, I'm pretty sure Honey was originally a Bendigo cat, but I've never seen two cats resemble each other more closely than this cat we saw and our Honey, and to emphasise the improbability of that, here's a picture of Honey to remind you:

It would seem impossible, no? They MUST be siblings, and I intend to investigate further in the future.

I hope the New Year is treating you well!

Love, Evan.

P.S. I'm such a sook- I got a little sad last night thinking that Honey (who is the most joyful, happy kitten in the world) is away from her siblings... Which probably doesn't make any sense, considering how young she was abandoned. Silly me.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Chocolate pudding addiction

Do you have some chocolates sitting in the cupboard that have started to separate and bloom? Do you hate the white powdery ick that makes them taste funny? Do you wish you could go back in time and eat them before we came to this awful scenario?!

Of course not! You sensible people never leave chocolates in the cupboard for months or years, because chocolate is so irresistibly delicious!

But if, like me, you just married someone who is good at maintaining a healthy near-chocolate-free routine, then this recipe might be useful:

Chocolate Pudding: Serves 4


2 handfuls chocolate(s)
90g butter
1/3 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup SR flour
3 eggs


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and while this is happening...

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a bowl, stirring half way [2 x 30sec @ ~750W]

3. Add the sugar and the melted (or at least getting there) chocolate to the saucepan, along with almost all the flour. Turn off the heat and mix all the ingredients together.

4. After a few seconds of cooling time, crack the eggs into the mix, and stir in thoroughly, then add the rest of the flour to help integrate the eggs.

5. Bake for around 8 minutes (or longer if you want it more cake-y, less saucy) in either individual oven-safe bowls, or a loaf pan lined with baking paper.

6. Serve with ice-cream!

I made up this recipe because I don't like following prescribed methods of cooking (I love to experiment in the kitchen- I read recipes to know how ingredients react, then make up my own) and I needed to use up those icky chocolates that were left over from years before. It tastes amazing, and I doubt I could ever be bothered with any other chocolate pudding recipe after this one. 3-4 minutes of work and 8 minutes cooking? Heck, yeah!

This recipe can also be easily modified, and once you have an idea about the consistency of the mixture, feel free to add whatever you like. For example, the pudding pictured above is an Orange Mocha Chocolate Pudding I made two nights ago, replacing the chocolate with orange chocolate, and adding a sachet of Malaysian white coffee powder. It was amazing.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Kitty Gym!

Thanks, Rob and Divz- it's beautiful! Honey loves it, and when the others wake up, I'm sure they will too!

Honey knows something's afoot...
Isn't it pretty?!
Which devious scheme shall I enact?!
Honey, the bell-ringer.
Quite roomy. Not bad here on the ground floor.

It's so much fun having all these friends always around us. There's nothing like waking up to a kitty trying to get under the blankets, or the sound of jingling bells tearing up the stairs. They truly are a pleasure to have around.