Ozoni, The Reader

Member Since

3/9/2019

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3/20/2019 3:12 AM

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53

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15

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Marauder

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Recent Posts

CYS Dev Thread on 3/19/2019 10:25:41 PM

Ah that's fixed it! Looks good now.


CYS Dev Thread on 3/19/2019 9:03:00 AM

Oops something went wrong relating to CYSCE and FFE. I have no idea what could cause this in both Chrome and Firefox as they've been updated. I'm illiterate when it comes to code, so I tried to troubleshoot whether this is a problem with my browsers or my internet by loading up a fresh virtual machine. I installed Firefox, and then added its extension. This resulted in the same issues. Running Windows 10 if that's helpful at all. I'm gonna leave this here in case anyone has the same problems and its not just a me problem.

 

 

 


What's your favourite movie / tv show and why? on 3/17/2019 12:58:39 PM

Aliens is good too. Ripley remains best mum.


What's your favourite movie / tv show and why? on 3/17/2019 8:10:09 AM

Alien. Ripley is best mum.


Another one of these darn things on 3/17/2019 7:24:18 AM

Sharing what I like to think is one of my better stories. Sometimes I think it's fine as is but other times I wonder if it's a tad boring. Any feedback would be really appreciated - but watch out it's a longish read. Also if you can think of a title for it that would be great. okay love you bye

The winter evenings in Taipei are frequently accompanied by cold rains. One day it darkened and became colder, raindrops started to fall again. And soon, about an inch of water seemed to emerge from the ground in the lanes of Wen-Chou Street. Professor Yu Kung-Shu, wearing wooden sandals, walked to the end of the lane. Raindrops fell through the large hole of his oiled-paper umbrella and made him shudder with cold as he drew his neck further into his shoulders. The thick and heavy old gown with which Kung-Shu covered himself failed to keep the damp from reaching his bones.

The professor, lame and dragging his right side, limped with a slow swing of his body as he returned through the gloom to his house.

It was, like all others in that lane, an old structure left from Japanese occupation. For years it had gone without repair. Kung-Shu struggled over the entry steps into the living room and lowered himself onto one of the broken sofas, breathing noisily. The Japanese tatami mats in the sitting room, with their accumulated dampness over the years, filled the room with the stale odour of decayed straw. Disorderly heaps of books, old hard bound volumes and others about to break loose, littered the desk, the chairs and the mats. Once the professor’s wife aired his books aired his books in the sun and a pile of ancient notes – the professor’s own recorded thoughts were never found again.

Earlier in the afternoon, Yu Kung-Shu’s wife had gone to join a mah-jong game next door. Before she left, she had reminded him, “Don’t forget to put on the Yu Shang Tang plaster, otherwise you won’t be able to walk properly tomorrow.”

“Won’t you come home a little earlier tonight?” He begged his wife. “Chuo-Kuo’s coming. Tonight.”

“So what? Isn’t it enough for him to have you keep him company?” she queried without interest.

As he was speaking, she folded a pile of paper money in her handkerchief and left through the door. Kung-Shu was holding a copy of the Taipei Daily News. He wanted to stop his wife and point out to her Chuo-Kuo’s picture and its caption: ‘Professor Wu Chuo-Kuo, Chinese scholar, renowned in the United States, an international authority on history.’ But his wife had vanished before he could say another word. She never missed the mah-jong games on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Whenever he remonstrated, she would silence him by saying “Don’t bother me you old geezer. I’ll go and win a hundred bucks, buy a chicken and stew it for you.” Old and frail, he was acutely aware that he had lost financial control in his home – his wife always won at mah-jong and kept a private account of her own. As she departed, she vetoed his proposal to ask Wu Chuo-Kuo to stay for dinner.

He watched the big, fat back of his wife recede from view. If only Ya-Hsin was still alive. She would have offered to go into the kitchen herself and cook a table-full of Wu Chuo-Kuo’s favourite dishes to welcome him as a visitor. That time in Peiping, at the farewell dinner, Wu had said, flushed with wine and delight, “Ya-Hsin, I shall come back next year to taste your dishes again.” Who would have known then that Peiping would be lost the following year and that Wu Chuo-Kuo would escape, and remain abroad for as long as twenty years? Many times have Kung-Shu wondered how he was faring. Three weeks ago, amazingly, a letter had arrived addressed to Professor Yu Kung-Shu saying that Wu Chu-Kuo was coming to Taipei. Kung-Shu was unable to imagine how his old friend had discovered this humble address and his whereabouts but that did not matter. Taking some of his small hidden savings, he had paid a taxi driver to take him to the airport and to help him stand among the waiting crowd. At Sung-Shan international airport, Wu was so tightly surrounded by government officials, reporters and bystanders that Yu Kung-Shu was shut out and could not even greet him. It was only when Chuo-Kuo spotted him in the crowd, and pushed his way towards his old friend, did they finally shake each other’s hand.

“You better let me come to see you in a few days.”

Carefully rubbing his painful knee with even more painful fingers, the professor smiled without realising he was doing so. He remembered the warm expression in his friend’s face and the gentle clasp of their hands.

“Kung-Shu...”

Startled at hearing the sound of his name, Kung-Shu struggled to the door and looked out to the dark rainy evening. There stood Wu Chuo-Kuo, framed in the entrance of the small house. The two men faced each other. Both were silent. So many years. So much time between. And then both men began speaking at once. Wu Chuo-Kuo, well preserved, immaculately dressed and still blooming with vitality, stepped quickly forward and caught the frail figure of the professor to him. Struggling to stand erect, the professor said, “Welcome my friend. Please enter my humble house.”

Anxious to perform traditional hospitality, Kung-Shu slowly bent and groped inside a low cupboard, bringing out tsuo-hsieh (straw slippers) for the feet of Wu Chu-Kuo. Wu Chu-Kuo smiled and, placing his feet in the slippers, thanked Kung-Shu and began, “These lanes of Taipei are really like a labyrinth. More confusing than those in Peiping.” His hair was wet and his spectacles blurred with drops of water. Wu Chuo-Kuo took off his overcoat and shook it twice before handing it to Professor Kung-Shu. Inside he was wearing a mien-au, the wadding of the silk jacket protecting him against the cold. Taking out a handkerchief, Wu Chuo-Kuo wiped his head and face so that his elegant silver hair became quite dishevelled. Kung-Shu carefully poured the Dragon Well tea from the thermos flask he had taken from the low table for he remembered that Wu never took black tea.

Wu Chuo-Kuo looked at his old friend and smiled gently, “I came as soon as I could. You know how we Chinese still love to entertain. I was invited to feast after feast. Everyday. And always more than ten dishes...”

It was Kung-Shu’s turn to smile, “And if you should stay longer, I’m afraid your poor old sick stomach would be upset.”

Wu Chuo-Kuo lifted the Dragon Well tea, blew away the tea-leaves on the surface and sipped. The hot vapour blurred his spectacles. He took them off, wiped them, lifted his eyes as if thinking of something and then sighed.

“I find that most of our friends are no longer with us...”

“I-Ching died last month, and I think I heard that Chi-Tsung also died on the mainland.”

Kung-Shu and Chuo-Kuo, sitting facing each other, fell silent. Wu Chuo-Kuo thrust his hands into his sleeves. Kung-Shu delicately smoothed his stiff painful right leg. Many others had disappeared.

“I’ll get you a cup of hot tea.” Kung-Shu shambled to the table in a corner of the living room, poured the cold tea and leaves into a strainer, prepared another cup of Dragon Well tea and, holding the thermos flask, laboriously limped back to his seat. Whenever he sat for a long time, his right leg becomes more stiff. Worse. Now waves of pain numbed his joints.

“Your leg seems to have been hurt rather badly,” Wu Chuo-Kuo said with concern as he accepted the hot tea.

“It was just one of those things I picked up while fleeing from the soldiers.” Kung-Shuo endeavoured to make light of the problem.

“Did you have it thoroughly treated?” queried Wu Chuo-Kuo.

“It’s a long story. I stayed in hospital for five months. They operated and gave me treatments, but it got worse and paralysis set in. So my wife got an acupuncturist from somewhere. You know what? It helped me to get down from bed and move about. I think we suffer from very peculiar illnesses; Western treatments may not necessarily work. Some native plaster or better still, a secret formula, or even a few random stabs by acupuncture might actually hit the right spot...” As Kung-Shu spoke, Wu Chuo-Kuo shook his head and couldn’t stop smiling. His old friend had not changed. Wu put his hand forward to gently touch Kung-Shu’s stiff and painful right leg.

“I’ve always felt a sense of shame whenever I thought about you. It’s been so comfortable for me. I do not know how we got separated that day. One minute you were there. Then you were gone. And somehow I felt responsible. And I knew you weren’t in America because I made exhaustive inquiries. It has taken me years to find you here. And now I have found you. And the Dragon Well tea.” Wu Chuo-Kuo hesitated and his voice trembled as he spoke softly, “and now that I’m here...”

“It’s fine. I’m fine.”

Wu Chuo-Kuo stared at the floor, and then nodded his proud head. Then there was much chattering between the old men, which lasted late into the night – only ceasing when Kung-Shu’s wife finally returned. Chuo-Kuo supposed that it was time for him to leave. Kung-Shu staggered him to the door.

“You know what, I’ll walk with you.”

Leaning against each other and stepping into pools of water and bumping against each other, the two progressed slowly and awkwardly, but with an air of happiness. As they approached the end of the lane, Wu Chuo-Kuo asked thoughtfully, “Kung-Shu, could I return before long?”

“You plan to return?” asked Kung-Shu, still embarrassed.

“In a year I’m due to retire,” explained Wu Chuo-Kuo, “I’m now alone over there. My wife Ying-Fen is gone. It’s difficult getting the right kind of things to eat. My stomach easily gets upset. Besides, I don’t have any children.”

“Oh...” quavered Kung-Shu.

Raindrops fell through the hole of the umbrella and struck the faces of Yu Kung-Shu and Wu Chuo-Kuo, making them shudder slightly with cold. A taxi drove past, splashing the two thoughtlessly. Kung-Shu extended his hand towards his friend. His frozen fingers were clasped in the warm grasp of Wu Chuo-Kuo. Beneath the umbrella, both old men exchanged glances. Each one understood the other but the polite game of keeping a certain amount of face would continue. After all, both were Professors of Classical studies. There would be much to discuss over endless cups of Dragon Well tea.

Kung-Shu limped back and returned to find he had forgotten to close the front door. The mats were disturbed and pages from books were fluttering in the wind. A window had crashed open and he limped across the room to secure the house from the elements. Professor Yu Kung-Shu sat down on the sofa with a book but his eyes closed after reading only two pages under the dim light. His head fell to his chest. Taipei’s winter nights were getting darker and darker, and the rain outside the window fell incessantly.

Edit: some cheeky mistakes had to be ironed out


Looking for bad pick-up lines on 3/13/2019 6:42:50 PM

You make my Gengar smile


Sharing a bit of a short story I'm working on on 3/13/2019 6:25:12 PM

Actually, that's the whole story lol.

I'll keep an eye on adverb use. Would it be better to describe an action ('He cautiously looked through the door.' VS 'He peeped around the door.') in general? 


Sharing a bit of a short story I'm working on on 3/13/2019 10:17:25 AM

Actually, I think I'll post everything I have so far so there aren't only snippets of it accessible. Thanks mizal for the advice, although the M.C. wasn't the main focus of the story I tried to reveal his character a bit more. 

He was late. He knew that. But he didn't mind. A middle-aged man, slightly balding, strolled down a deserted street whilst the sun set. The sullen sky was a mattress of grey, broken only by sporadic patches of a more tired grey. The buildings looming over the footpath were a similar shade, and battled futilely against perpetually blaring neon sights and lights. As he walked, Martin's gimlet eyes, hardened by his many years, swept upwards, and he observed birds forlornly parade across a dreary sky. Passing several large billboards advertising the latest and greatest, and noting that the Money-Changers club had already closed, he turned the corner and joined the city at The Place of Worship.

Martin passed a smorgasbord of images, golden dollar signs, globes ensconced in disembodied hands, all icons of the World Bank. He briefly joined the mass of people genuflecting before a large statue engraved with the words "His Eminence, Adam Smith" then bustled upwards, past the Have-nots, who were fervently worshipping various effigies of Smith, and joined the rest of the Haves. Martin watched with resigned interest as an elderly man made his way onto a raised platform, clutching a book everyone recognised as "The Wealth of Nations: The 105th Edition". Following the usual orisons, the luxuriously grey-robed figure proceeded to enlighten his listeners of the World Bank's divine compassion and its protection of their desires. He added, causing a ripple of delight, that a decision had been made to generously lower interest rates. He urged the people to further invest. But today Martin wasn't listening. He was distracted by his inner thoughts.

Having inherited the genes of wealthy business people, Martin was always destined for a comfortable life as a 'have', and had inherited the vocation of merchant-trader. His life had been spent travelling endlessly, buying and selling. Recently, while passing through a rather insignificant town, he had stumbled upon a rarity. A printed book. Although deciding it possessed no real market value, Martin, after prolonged internal debate, still purchased the oddity. Printed words had long been obsolete; the world's entire book catalogue had been collected and digitised before his lifetime. The book, strangely titled 'The Holy Bible', had ever since intermittently occupied his mind.

"And remember", the preacher's voice pierced his thoughts, "Whether you are a Have or a Have-not, the selfish pursuit of wealth..."

"Benefits society as a whole," the mass chanted in unison. All, including the speaker, then diverted their eyes, brimming with religious awe, to the large electronic board behind the platform. The highest point of this hallowed ground. The many flashing numbers stopped flickering, silencing the chorale of the street. It marked the closure of the stock market for another day. 

As Martin entered his temporary residence, he removed his worn, crumpled coat and headed for his usual pile of work. The road that had led him back snaked for miles through the concrete jungle, letting him traverse the feverish nightlife of downtown Springfield before returning him home. Without conscious thought, he sat down at his desk and automatically pulled out his ledger. Briefly pausing, something caught his bleary eyes, It was that book again. He had almost forgotten about it - originally reading to merely distract himself. Of course, it should have been dismissed as a preposterous work of fiction, a remnant of ancient times. But his curiosity betrayed him.

He supposed that even the usage of words was dictated by The Invisible Hand, as the natural progression of language rendered archaic and unnecessary words obsolete. For instance, the word 'God' was frequently repeated. Consulting his dictionary, he found it too was ignorant of that word. In the past few days, he discovered that 'God' was a being who seemed almost as powerful as Adam Smith. Almost. It's difficult to think about these things. While he sometimes envied the cushy lifestyle of the 'Academics' - like his father, he had studied business and finance at twelve years of age - he preferred the simplicity of numbers and was glad to relegate ancient, esoteric musings to those specialised to entertain them. Martin paused to remove his clouded spectacles and attempted to rub the tiredness from his eyes. He sighed and allowed himself a sardonic smile. If his productivity slowed any further, he was certain that the market would be squirrelled away by sunrise. With an exhausted yawn, he picked up his glasses, cleaned them carefully, and resumed his calculations, but found himself still distracted by the book.

Earlier, he had flipped to the second half of the book, as it was curiously titled 'The New Testament'. For something that presumed to be the authority on reality, he was shocked by the countless stories of people aiding others without the promise of reciprocity. In the effort to progress humanity, the greatest virtue was to be rich - closely followed by an adherence to the government's rules and regulations. As an American prophet, Calvin Coolidge, once said: "The man who builds a factory builds a temple, that the man who works there worships there". Perhaps he was reading a Greek tragedy, and he had been blind to the irony. The grave naivete of Jesus and the chaos of primitive society led everyone, even the divine, to miss the point entirely.

Martin leaned back wearily in his chair. He had spent the night ploughing through his work and would be ready for the nine-thirty start to the trading day. He reached over and picked up the worn book, frayed at the edges, the flimsy cardboard innards exposed. It had become a disturbing habit to read more of the book before retiring to bed. His tired fumbling dislodged something tucked firmly between two pages. Gently, he picked up the piece of paper and discovered a faded photograph of what appeared to be a nuclear family - complete with a mother, father and children. They were dressed in rags and looked rather unkempt. Despite being crammed into a small room, their thin, wiry frames were dwarfed by the surroundings. And yet, with arms around each other, they were grinning. Their eyes shone with genuine happiness. 

Martin's thoughts began to go around in circles, in a fashion not dissimilar to a Ferris wheel. In the wee hours of the morning, it would be futile to even begin comprehending. He gently closed the book and decided to sell it to the Ministry of History. Even though it was just another work of fiction, perhaps they'll find a use for it.


Sharing a bit of a short story I'm working on on 3/13/2019 2:56:09 AM

2nd part

Having inherited the genes of wealthy business people, Martin was always destined for a comfortable life as a 'have', and had inherited the vocation of merchant-trader. His life had been spent travelling endlessly, buying and selling. Recently, while passing through a rather insignificant town, he had stumbled upon a rarity. A printed book. Although deciding it possessed no real market value, Martin, after prolonged internal debate, still purchased the oddity. Printed words had long been obsolete; the world's entire book catalogue had been collected and digitised before his lifetime. The book, strangely titled 'The Holy Bible', had ever since intermittently occupied his mind.

"And remember", the preacher's voice pierced his thoughts, "Whether you are a 'have' or 'have-not', the selfish pursuit of wealth..."

"Benefits society as a whole," the mass chanted in unison. All, including the speaker, then diverted their eyes, brimming with religious awe, to the large electronic board behind the platform. The highest point of this hallowed ground. The many flashing numbers stopped flickering, silencing the chorale of the street. It marked the closure of the stock market for another day. 

As Martin entered his temporary residence, he removed his worn, crumpled coat and headed for his usual pile of work. The road that had led him back snaked for miles through the concrete jungle, letting him traverse the feverish nightlife of downtown Springfield before returning him home. Without conscious thought, he sat down at his desk and automatically pulled out his ledger. Briefly pausing, something caught his bleary eyes, It was that book again. He had almost forgotten about it - originally reading to merely distract himself. Of course, it should have been dismissed as a preposterous work of fiction, a remnant of ancient times. But his curiosity betrayed him.


Sharing a bit of a short story I'm working on on 3/11/2019 7:21:15 PM

Thanks for the feedback! I didn't intend to make the main character so menacing, I tried to make him more - not disillusioned - but sceptical of the general state of things. The setting is pretty much a hypothetical extreme of 'what if everyone just decided the free market was everything Adam Smith said it should be' and hence the worship of the World Bank lol. Anyway, I'll post more bits soon.