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Zombie魚 and character

May 17, 2010

Cecilia Chan is Siuto’s very good friend from Canada, she and her significant other, Kevin, recently started a blog. I love it. Which is odd, because her writing isn’t particularly eloquent, her observation not particularly insightful, in fact, at the risk of sounding like an absolute nast (that’s a word I made up for a nasty person – a nast – one has to pronounce it with a British accent for the full effect), I would go as far as to say that the blog has virtually nil content. It does not inform nor educate, and it only very occasionally entertains. The point is that it is not aiming to do that. As Miss Chan wrote in short introduction on the right:

“My brain is overflow [sic] with information, and I don’t want any of my precious memory to be pushed away… Here I am, manually, doing all the annotation. Catching up with all the events in my life.”

This blog is personal. When I read the posts and watch the videos, I feel that I am entering the couple’s perfect little world, where there is nobody else but themselves (and a snail called GFP which they found in a bunch of spinach and decided to keep as a pet?…). I almost want nobody to comment on what they write as it would seem like an intrusion. Why then, are they putting something so personal and delicate on the rough world of the interweb? Miss Chan says it is to update her friends and family about her life. But to me, the blog is a digital version of one of those little “輝&晶到此一遊” type of inscriptions you find on obscure spots at a tourist site. Not the big, red, bold ones spray-painted on a large piece of rock. But the small ones inscribed on the inside of some handrails. It isn’t there really for others to see, it is there so that the couple can come back some few decades later and think, “remember we did that? Those were the days. I wonder how many people noticed that.”

Where the blog lacks in content, it shines in character. From the moment you read the modest but lovely introduction on the right, you start to see the writers as friends. (I don’t personally know Miss Chan that well.) The kind of ideas mentioned in the introduction isn’t anything new, but through the words you start to know the people. They are happily together and unashamedly technical. When you read the posts, you start to notice that the girl is slightly more absent-minded and the boy is slightly funnier. (If, one day, I get to meet the boy, I swear my first line will be “好似條Zombie魚呀!”) The characters then comes back, always cheerful, always ever-so-mildly mischievous, always together.

I personally believe that having likeable and/or interesting characters is the key to every art that requires the performer to speak to his or her audience, be it on paper, on screen or on stage. The best example is the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, which is one of, if not the most, popular TV programme in Britain. But it shouldn’t be – if a survey is carried out asking whether people are interested watching a motoring show, only half of the results will be yes – the men’s. So how can a show primarily based on a topic on which half the population has no interest become so popular? The answer is because people are watching the people, not the cars. There is almost a one-word description to every presenter which is so vivid that everyone remembers it: Jeremy Clarkson is power-thirst, Richard Hammond is cute and James May is geeky. With the simplistic but consistent characters, their interactions naturally become almost cartoon-like. The programme is therefore entertaining to a wide spectrum of audience despite its topic.

I think there is something we writers of this blog can learn from Miss Chan’s blog, we all have different personalities and interests, but are unanimously silly. As we learn to let these qualities seep through our words, our blog will have its life. The first thing I would like to do is to though, is to change the banner and the background, they have to be less grim and a lot sillier!

Oh, and bless you lovely couple, Cecilia and Kevin, and pardon me for being such a horrid nast.

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