Sunday, November 20, 2011

We never are what we intend, or invent

Oh, you guys, I am so tired. I feel like I have a terrible case of jet lag and it's entirely unfair since I don't have the thrill of new scenery to make it feel worth it. Two and half hours sleep. A for effort, self. But hey, the essay is mostly done. I say mostly because I gave it a cursory glance this morning and it's second half is lacking in substance. I need to flesh it out with another paragraph or two at least, and throwing a couple of more references in won't hurt. I also think I need to qualify why it predominantly focuses on one season (not because I happened to be watching said season at time of writing *cough*) and perhaps rethink the conclusion. Because I'm fairly sure it's the weakest conclusion I have ever written in the history of my life. But maybe that's just because I haven't actually stressed the thread of my argument consistently through my I should probably do that too. And then just finalise the reference list.

So, yes. Mostly done. I have my laptop with me at work today so I'll finish it all off before 5pm. And then it's out of my hands. I can find a dark hole to curl into and weep, and then change my name.

Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold
Some die looking for a hand to hold

Well I carry this box to its proper place
And when I lower it down
I let you fade away
I know that you would do this for me
I'd serve you drugs on a silver plate
If I thought it would help you get away
I hope that you would do this for me

I stole bricks from the dam almost every day
Now I'm drowning in the flood I made
Well explain myself to me on the other side
I'm gonna want some answers when I die

Music: At the bottom - Brand New

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Down by the brimming river

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

- As I walked out one evening, WH Auden

Music: Time to Pretend - Jonsi (MGMT cover)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Top 10: Comic Book Movies

This is a total cop-out really. Until I saw the first X-Men movie, I never liked comic book or, more precisely, superhero movies so I'm not exactly what you'd call a good judge, well-informed or anything like that. But I do know what I enjoy, and that's enough for a list.

  • V for Vendetta
The great thing about this is even though I saw the film first, it never detracted from my appreciation of the graphic novel. I love them both, but in completely different ways. They're very true to each other and yet somehow they still operate as separate texts. I think the acting in the film is just phenomenal, especially Hugo Weaving who manages to evoke so much with so little to use. The visuals are also perfect. Whenever I watch this film (and I admit, that is a lot) I always end up wishing that I could believe in something that much. Oh, to have a cause! An ideal! I think it was Che Guavara who said, 'We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.'

  • Batman Begins
I didn't particularly care about Batman until this came out. Sure, I saw the Tim Burton ones with Michael Keaton and the George Clooney films - and wasn't there one with Val Kilmer? Honestly, I though they were kind of lame. Batman just seemed kinda...flat to me. Admittedly, I was only 10 when Batman & Robin was released, so it's not like I was exactly the target audience. But I think Nolan's Batman films added pathos to the character that was lacking before, and made it much more 'real.' Plus I love a believable, fallible hero. It's why I can't buy into Superman - far too perfect, it's just not right.

  • The Crow
I actually always forget that this was based on a comic book. I've never read it but I have seen the film countless times and just love it. I think it's a desperately romantic film, which no doubt speaks volumes about my idea of romance, but come on. Guy rises from the dead to avenge your murder? Eternal love and devotion right there.

  • X-Men 

When this film first came out on video or DVD or whatever it was, I must have watched it at least three times in the first week. I loved it. Again, it's that idea of a fallible hero - of being flawed and human (well, you know what I mean) and finding yourself capable of extraordinary things. It also carries a lot of subtext about societal pressures and difference and ostracism which can be easily related to.

  •   Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I think my favourite thing about Scott Pilgrim is that offers absolutely no explanation for its world - it just is the way it is, and you have to roll with it. You always hear people carry on about introducing responders (be they readers or viewers) to your world and providing context and blah blah blah, but with this you're just in this seemingly real Toronto, until suddenly there are people with mystical powers and epic showdowns happening all over the place. No explanation to how or anything, it just is. And I love that. It's so tongue in cheek, witty and, well, awesome. In that fab pop-culture heavy way I adore. Just love.

  • Iron Man
I never expected to fall for this like I did. I didn't know anything about the character and the only bits I knew were from an Avengers cartoon I caught a glimpse of on tv maybe once or twice and didn't find particularly interesting. Up to this point, comic book movies I was familiar with had consisted of the Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman films...and they're all kinda dark and broody. Iron Man, while still dealing with heavy things, is also just a hell of a lot of fun. It's funny, it's fast and it really is just a joy to watch. Up until this year, this was hands-down my favourite comic book film.

  • Thor
As with the above, I didn't really expect to have a blast going into this but that's what ended up happening. All the set photos and stills leading up to it had looked a little fake and disappointing, but in the end, I think it delivered a well-executed action film that I thoroughly enjoyed...and really, I can't ask for more. I was surprised by how funny it is actually, and that really was the clincher. Of course it has it's flaws, particularly where Natalie Portman's character is concerned, but it has Thor and Loki being all Mufasa/Scar and who couldn't want that? Also, Sif. Also also, Hawkeye cameo. (Considering how few of his films I've seen, my championing of Jeremy Renner is somewhat disproportionate.)

  • X2: X-Men United

I know I'm not the only one who watches these films and then starts hoping every random twitch is signs of a mutation manifesting. 'I just had a muscle spasm in my leg, I'm developing super-speed!' The thing I love the most about this entire world is that nothing is really black and white, it's all so messy and convoluted. Good can be bad and bad can be good, and they can switch at any time without you knowing. It's handled well in this film and there's a lot of things that work fine superficially, but have so much more happening under the surface.

  • The Dark Knight

This doesn't need any explanation surely? Epic film is epic. Every time you think it's ended, something else happens (a good or a bad thing depending on your mood really). Also, two words, Heath Ledger. That is all.

  • X-Men: First Class

What's that? I've never mentioned this one before? It must come as a huge surprise then that it's my favourite. Why are your eyes glassing over? Fine. I won't bore you with the hows and whys. Dissertation on X-Men forthcoming as soon as I finish my other academic things :P

Honourable mention: Red. Such a clever, quirky action film with a really stellar cast who I think all did a fantastic job. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend everyone check it out. If you need incentive, Helen Mirren assassinates people and Karl Urban fights Bruce Willis while looking really fine in a nice suit. How could you possibly go wrong?

Also: Sin CityKick-Ass, Hellboy, A History of Violence.

Bad films of note: Any of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man's. I'm sorry (especially to you, R, I really am) but they are dull and Spider-Man is such a whiny little shit. Oooooh noooo, a spider bit me. Mary Ann doesn't love me. No one knows who I aaaaaaam. Waaaaaah. Dude, come on. And I don't think he's supposed to be that bad in the comics really (not like Batman, who can be a real downer - I get it Bruce! Your parents are dead, you made them a promise, you don't have to keep bringing it up.). I've only really read him in a Deadpool arc, but he was actually pretty funny in that so...I don't know. I don't care enough to investigate further. Also Wanted, which is I think is probably a rare case of the movie being pretty bad, but the comic book being even worse. Pedestrian is putting it kindly. Blah. Only watch the film for James McAoy being deliciously bad-ass, and also to make fun of looms. Looms are good. Oh, and then there's Jonah Hex. It has pretty much no story. But it does have Fassbender acting crazy and Irish so, you know. You just have to ask yourself how much nonsense that's worth.

Music: Eloise - Say Anything

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Swim across an ocean

Look what arrived today...

Yes, I really am this lame. But look! Don't X-Men: First Class (aka my life partner) and I make a lovely pair? The best thing is that Charles is on the back of the case so I didn't have to choose after all! Oh, what a weight off my mind that is. (Priorities, I don't have them. What? I keep saying there needs to be a support group.)

In related news, they've hired a writer for a first draft script for the sequel. This makes me very happy. Finally, there is hope! I may actually get what I've been whining about these last few months. Now, get Michael Vaughn on board again and do exactly what you did last time, only better.

Yeah yeah, I know. Just let me have this, ok? Life is chaotic and busy and painful and I've got so much to do and not enough time to do it, and I really don't want to blog about all the angsty nonsense going on. All those and's are totally intentional. So let's all just appreciate the awesome mutants and the glory of McAvoy and Fassbender instead. They make everything better.

Music: MFEO Pt 1 - Jack's Mannequin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


…and how I’ve decided to abandon it after one day.

Officially, National Novel Writing Month kicked off yesterday. It’s my third year – I won the first, didn’t win last year, and was all set to go for this one. I didn’t have a plan but seeing as I am the type of person who wrote essay plans for submission after I wrote the actual essays, this didn’t phase me. Yesterday I wrote 1363 words, which is 303 short of the daily target but close enough not to really be an issue. And yet here I am today, ready to call it quits.

Look, I like the idea of NaNo. I like that it creates this lively community across the world and all the socialising is a blast. But in many ways, I also feel that this is a valid point of view. 50,000 words is not a novel, and on average, churning out 1666 words a day is not necessarily the greatest way to go about writing. I am notoriously bad at doing what I’m told – for example, I never really did the in-class writing exercises at uni and I never wrote essays during class time in High School. I don’t like the expectation that I should be doing something, especially when everyone else is doing it. So the expectation that during November I should be writing 1666 words a day is not really something my personality is all that compatible with.

And it’s not writing under pressure that’s the problem, I excel under pressure. The whole reason I first decided to do NaNo was because I usually work far better with a deadline hanging over my head (and leave everything to the last minute). I think it’s more the idea of everyone writing at the same time – like every time you turn around someone is there, writing, and what are you doing? Shouldn’t you be writing? Why aren’t you writing??? Stop nagging me! I do what I want! If I’m honest, listening to everyone talk about their writing and their word counts completely puts me off doing my own. I know it’s meant to be inspiring and encouraging, and for many people it works brilliantly to be writing with others. That's great! Doesn't really work for me though. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t. It’s completely irrational, but that’s just how it is. Maybe I’m just too much of a loner to really embrace a communal effort.

Of course, whatever you write in November will have to be edited. Probably more painstakingly and stringently than a first draft novel written on a “normal” schedule needs to be edited. This is a given. There are few things in life I hate more than editing – in 6 years at uni I never once, ever, edited an assignment. The only re-drafting I did was for my creative pieces done under a supervisor, which is really like working with an editor telling me where I need to lift my game. But me, for myself? Not great at the editing thing. Which is precisely why my first NaNo novel continues to languish in a ridiculous, didactic state. Not that it didn’t serve a purpose – I’ve certainly never stopped thinking about the premise, even if I do now want to turn it into a graphic novel.

Now I’m at an impasse of sorts. I don’t want to feel like I’ve given up without even trying, but we’re two days in and I’m already feeling a nagging apathy settling in. I have a cool story that I’m dying to tell, but I don’t want to have to write huge chunks of it at breakneck pace while others are doing the same thing. So I don’t know, maybe this format isn’t really for me. And considering that I write, on average, 2500 words at work a day, I’m pretty tapped for words as well. Even if it’s just boring craft terminology, it’s still using the same part of my brain. Oh, and I still have an essay to write within the next week too.

I think NaNo is a great thing as a motivational tool, it gets people writing, brings people together and generally it’s quite fun. For me personally though, maybe it would be better if I was just 'racing' myself and my writing practice. So maybe I should just be more rational about this and instead of trying to fit into this model, I need to adapt it to suit my own style. Who knows, I might still finish anyway – sometimes it’s hard to stop once you get going. But I won’t beat myself up about it if I don’t. With that in mind, I think this November I’ll aim for 20,000 words and then just keep going. 700 words a day, give or take, is not such a huge ask.

Music: Fairytale of New York - The Pogues feat Kirsty MacColl