Raohe Night Market in Taipei!

January 29, 2010 in Food, Taiwan, Travel by pacejmiller

The number of places I visited in Taipei for the predominant purpose of eating over my two-week stay there is really starting to repulse me.  It was really a Guinness-World-Record-type feat of gluttony.

Nevertheless…I cannot go on without telling you about the Raohe Street Night Market in Taipei, one of the most famous, and in my opinion, one of the best tourist night markets for food in Taipei.

Yes, there are a quite few odd things to buy in the shops lining either side of the lengthy strip (like any other night market), but it’s the food that sets Raohe apart.

Let me take you on a trip through the Raohe Street Night Market in pictures.

(Click on ‘More…’ to begin)

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JD Salinger, author of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, passes away

January 29, 2010 in On Writing by pacejmiller

Sad day for the literary world.

Reports today confirmed the death of JD Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye.  Salinger was 91 years old.

Salinger’s life after The Catcher in the Rye wasn’t what you would have expected.  The overwhelming success of the controversial book was probably the last thing Salinger wanted.  It brought him too much unwanted attention, turning him into a recluse that never published anything after 1965.  He said he still wrote, but he never had the desire to publish his works.

I have only read The Catcher in the Rye once, when I was in a lost youngster in high school.  I don’t think I ever gave the book the attention and respect it deserved.  I can’t remember much about it except that I didn’t really get the message and I only read it because I had to.  All I could think of was finishing the thing so I could go play video games or something.

I’m sure if I read it again today it would be a completely different experience.

Book Review: ‘Eclipse’ by Stephenie Meyer

January 29, 2010 in Book Reviews by pacejmiller

Eclipse is the third book in Stephenie Meyer’s mega bestselling Twilight Saga.

I had read the first book (Twilight), but to be honest it didn’t do much for me.  I could see the appeal of the story and characters, but it just didn’t appeal to me.  Nevertheless, being a ‘watch-anything’ movie buff, I watched the movie adaptation of Twilight, which was average, and then more recently watched its sequel, New Moon, which I thought was pretty good (review here).  Watching the movie, however, didn’t inspire me to read the book version.

I didn’t intend to read any more of Meyer’s books, but friends from work started telling me that Eclipse was the best book of the series, and eventually I ended up borrowing it off one of them.  The movie wasn’t going to be out until July, so I thought, why not?

Well, I have now finished the book, and I must say it was another pretty ‘meh’ affair.  Now, before you berate me, please remember I am a guy.

Eclipse has a good premise.  It picks up where New Moon left off, with Bella Swan torn between her love for her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen, and her werewolf best friend Jacob Black.  And the whole 600+ pages of the book just goes on and on about that.  There is an imminent threat brewing in the background the entire time, but it takes a back seat to the romantic tensions.

If you’re into teenage love triangles and star-crossed lovers, then I imagine Eclipse will be a pretty good read for you.  For me, however, I just felt as though not much happened.  There was a lot of talking and a few minor incidents, but for the most part the story just dragged on.  The biggest disappointment for me was the final climax, which was supposed to resolve that whole imminent threat issue I mentioned earlier.  Unfortunately, the action was predominantly emotional, as opposed to the physical action I had hoped for (I know, that’s such a guy thing).  I imagine, and hope, that the movie will do a much better job of handling it.

My main problem with Eclipse was with the main characters, especially Edward Cullen.  I know the dude is supposed to be the perfect man (vampire), but he didn’t feel real to me.  He was simply too ideal.  Everything he did or said felt like it was calculated by Meyer to make girls love him more.  Men like that don’t exist!  But I guess that’s the whole point of his appeal, isn’t it?  I used to complain that Robert Pattinson (who plays Edward in the films) was too wooden, especially with that pained expression permanently fixated on his face – but now I am starting to think that he captured the essence of the character perfectly!

And Bella Swan.  I don’t even know where to begin with Bella Swan.  All I will say is she really is, when you think about it, a total bitch!

The saving grace of Eclipse is Jacob Black.  Now Jacob might be a selfish, manipulative dick at times, but his emotions are much more real and capable of empathy.   His pain is what keeps the book afloat.  Consider me ‘Team Jacob’.

The way I read a book is usually quite indicative of what I thought of it.  I ended up reading Eclipse in about three weeks, primarily while travelling to and from work.  I never felt like I didn’t want to read the book on the train each day, but I never felt the urge to read it when I had spare time at home.  I suppose that means Eclipse is a 2.5 out of 5!

[PS: I have no desire to read the final book, Breaking Dawn, even though I was told today by someone else that it’s the best book of the series.  I think I need a break from Twilight.  I’ll just wait for the movies.]