Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interests and Influences!

Some things that make me tick:

Literature - books and graphic novels:

  • Sandman (Neil Gaiman)
  • Watchmen (Alan Moore, far better than the cheesy movie)
  • Lost Girls (Alan Moore)
  • Maus (Art Spiegelman)
  • Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
  • Dracula (Bram Stoker)
  • Epileptic (David B.)
  • Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
  • Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

Films and television:
  • Leon
  • Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
  • South Park
  • The Simpsons
  • Oz
  • Nip/Tuck
  • The Lion King
  • The Matrix
  • Blade Runner
  • Roman Holiday
  • Batman Returns
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • From Hell

Music: A bit difficult, because as a music journalist this always, always changes.

  • Nine Inch Nails
  • The Beatles
  • The Clash
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Yves Klein Blue
  • The Cure

Anti-anti-anti-Avatar blog post

My anti-Avatar post:

Someone else's anti-anti-Avatar post:

My anti-anti-anti-Avatar post:

First of all, let's get some stuff out of the way. I'm not an Arts student. I didn't vote for the Greens. I have never read James Joyce. I shop at Target and Supre. I loved Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day is honestly one of my favourite movies of all time (I wanted to marry Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was eight). I enjoy my mainstream pop culture (I own more The Simpsons than Bart can poke with a stick). I eat McDonald's. I actually enjoyed watching giant alien robots kick the shit out of each other in Transformers.

So no, I'm not really the kind of tree-hugging, philosophy graduate type of girl that Marz is talking about (but they are lovely people). And in fact, the type of person I am should have nothing to do with how crap Avatar was.

But I do still think that calling Avatar "brilliant" or "epic" is a serious misuse of the English language. I personally think that brilliant equates to intelligent, epiphanic and mind-blowing. I would call American History X brilliant. I do not call "Space Marines fighting blue cat-people on a far away planet" brilliant. And in movie terms, epic means a massively impressive, heroic tale, like Luc Besson's Leon or Gladiator. Neither needed giant alien races, dragons or a $500 million budget to do the trick. Just good acting, amazing storylines, sharp action scenes and a perfect soundtracks.

In Marz's blog, he reckons that to expect anything more than just explosions from an awesome sci-fi movie is ridiculous. Well, Mister Marz, you may want to go down to your local video store and check out the following sci-fi films that manage to have great storylines AND fantastic graphics, explosions, giant people and other things that may float your boat.

  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Perhaps one of the most visually beautiful yet insightful films made in the last ten years.
  • Blade Runner
  • Minority Report
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Gattaca
  • I, Robot
  • War of the Worlds
  • Pitch Black
  • The Matrix, which is similar to Avatar as it was also a high-budget, Hollywood blockbuster with moments of dubious Keanu Reeves acting, but had an amazing storyline to back up the action scenes.
  • The Fifth Element
  • Other Cameron movies like The Abyss, Aliens or Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Side note: Just so you know, I actually know Marz and he's a decent guy. This isn't ripping on him. I love a lot of things other people hate, and hate lots of things that other people love. Like Avatar. And shit.

The grass is greener (or whiter) on the other side...

Asians love Caucasians. Simple as that.

I went to the most expensive, all-girls boarding school on the Gold Coast, and about half of the school was Asian. It was here in this elite setting that I first discovered that the majority of young Asians living in Australia are really insecure about their ethnicity, although some are more extreme than others.

One particular bimbo-headed Korean friend was obsessed. Her goal in life was to "marry an Aussie". She once bleached her hair (it turned into that disgusting orange brown fuzz though), shaved her eyebrows and coloured them back in orange, wear really white foundation and brown mascara. She earnestly and nervously asked in a thick accent, "Do I look white?"

"No. You look like an idiot."

There's something rather insulting to me, as an Asian (half Peranakan, half Hainanese, born in Singapore) that many of us are trying to disguise or play down our ethnicity. Or the fact that it is even a point of issue. You would be surprised at how many times people - both Asian or otherwise - have asked me what race the person I was dating was. Or how many of my friends are of what race. Like the fuck I care. I tend to value personality, individualism and common interests in my friends and lovers. Not genetics.

Side note: the even funnier thing is that a lot of people are obsessed with Asian culture (Chinese food, mange, anime, J-pop, Korean movies, Buddhism, Asian martial arts). So I'm not quite sure where this whole self-hating thing came from.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I really don't need an answer...

"How are you?"

Could there even be a more loaded question in our culture? Three simple words that can mean anything from a cold, meaningless greeting, to a caring probe by a worried friend. And that's not even getting into relationships. Any man worth his weight in Valentine's Day cards will know that the answer, "I'm okay" can mean that his girlfriend is pissed off and wants to dump him, or maybe she's upset and she wants him to comfort her. Or, in very rare occasions, it actually means she's okay. But let me repeat, very rare occasions.

I'm a writer who has to work in retail to pay the rent (cliched I know, like an actor working as a waitress) and I'm one of those chirpy sales people who just likes greeting everyone. But seriously, I must have the words "FREE THERAPY" written on my head. Dear customers, if I ask you how you are going, I simply mean it in a greeting type of way. I don't need to know that your husband is cheating, that you're really depressed, that your date with that guy from that dating site went badly, that you want to move to the countryside, that you feel old or that you want to change careers. I don't know you. Honestly.

It keeps happening. In fact, one of them called me up in the shop the next day. My advice? If you have to tell a shop girl all about your hopes, dreams and fears, you may need therapy. Not retail therapy, but actual counselling.

On the bright side, I can now say that my psychology degree is not completely useless.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

6 ways to make an "epic" film like Avatar

  1. Write a terrible screenplay with every cliche in the book and really obvious names. Come on, like we expect them to get this "unobtanium".
  2. Make the lead character a brash, naive fellow and an intelligent, strong female who will for some unknown reason fall for him.
  3. Hire cocky, relatively unknown actors (acting skills and good looks not needed) as the leads so you can be called responsible for their big break.
  4. Make it three hours long. People equate boring and long with epic, oddly enough.
  5. Disguise the terrible acting and poor plot with lots of explosions and 3D.
  6. Have a happy ending, but make sure someone dies. Film goers of lower intelligence feel that a main character must die otherwise it won't be epic.

Avatar is bad. It is horrible. It is shit. I guessed the ending about 40 minutes in. It bored me to tears and made me want to vomit, and let me assure you that wasn't nausea related to the 3D glasses. If I wanted to watch Pocahontas again, I would have borrowed it from the video library. And put blue cellophane over my telly.

Here's the thing - so many people have said things like, "Yeah, it's not the best story... but wow! It's so pretty! And colourful! And the computer graphics!" Okay, so it's true that the graphics are far better than anything I've seen on Frogger or Pac-Man. But I am the proud owner of a brain, a need a little more mental stimulation than giant blue men and trees that fucking light up. No amount of CG can disguise a bad script, plot holes and terrible acting. It seems like nowadays, the only thing that filmmakers have to do to get their film called "epic" is to make it 3 hours long and a massive budget. I'm sorry James Cameron, but you've lost it.

Enjoy the essay below.

Photo credit: (I have no idea where the image is from originally, but do not mean to infringe on any copyright law and do not claim to own this image.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Female Buying Behaviours

Women are evil. As a woman, I can confirm this. Here's a little social phenomenon you can observe to prove it:

  1. Put two female friends of similar age/size/style into a clothing or shoe store.
  2. Observe them eyeing each other's movements. They will try to walk ahead of the other to "get to" all the bargains/good items first. This is the unspoken rule of "I saw it first, I can buy it".
  3. On the rare occasion, the dominant one will miss out on a good item and walk past it, only to notice the weaker one pick it up a second later. The prima donna will instantly say something along the lines of, "Oh, I saw that... isn't it nice? Do you think it'll fit me?" as a way of securing the item for themselves.
  4. When in the change rooms, the females will try to exhibit their designer prowess. One might say "Oh wow, that looks like the dress in that new Burberry campaign" and wait for the other to say a comment such as "Yeah, the one that Emma Watson wore" to confirm their designer knowledge.
  5. At their obligatory post-shopping coffee, the women will pull out all their purchases and compare total spend and total "savings" in terms of sale price to see who is the day's shopping winner. This often spurs women on to rush back to stores and quickly buy up anything they were "umming" and "ahhhing" over to push their score up.
  6. The women will almost always ask for a gazillion separate bags for every shop they spend at to increase the feelings of "I spent so much money".
  7. If one woman tried something on but it was unsatisfactory and passed it on to the other in the changeroom on a whim, and the second woman ends up purchasing it, the garment is now referred to as "my dress that you own" by the first woman.

See? Women are evil. This is why I shop alone.

Be My Valentine

I hate shopping malls and I stay away from chain store brands like the Plague. And you'll never see this girl wearing a brand emblem emblazoned across my (very puny) chest or a logo monogram handbag across my forearm... or even worse, its cheap imitation inferior which sends out the following message to the world: "Not only am I tacky, but I'm too much of a tight arse to spend for a quality bag, because 'Lius Wuitton' is still as classy."

But then I guess I'm not materialistic. For my twenty-first and twenty-second birthdays, I insisted on absolutely no birthday presents. The best thing I got this Christmas was not store bought, and it didn't have a brand name attached. It was a love song written about me for me - quite possibly the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me. Which is why it sickens me to see all this St. Valentine's Day marketing that equates money for love.

One particular ad had a "love metre" with sale items being categorised according to price. The question "How much do you love them?" was written in a giant love heart across the top, and the answers in the chart below with corresponding price tags to go with the varying degrees of love. What was rather cheeky was that the answer for the $0-$10 bracket was "Not at all".

I would much rather a crafty handmade present, a good home-cooked meal, a romantic poem or even a cheap present if it had meaning behind it, than say a $10,000 piece of jewellery. So boys... if your girlfriend/valentine expects you to buy such shit, perhaps this is indicative of how shit she/your relationship is. As in poo shit, not "this is top shit". And if she asks for a LV bag, then it's in a "diarrhea shit" kinda way.

PS I actually wrote this blog on the 10th of February, before Valentine's but forgot to post it.
PPS I got a poem for Valentine's Day, and was taken out for a beautiful dinner at a Spanish restaurant followed by dessert at a chocolate cafe.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thank fuck I'm not a vampire...

As a teenager, I was one of those New Age types. I even charged money at a fair doing palm readings, numerology, astrology and graphology (analysing handwriting and drawings), and according to my happy customers I was rather accurate. Why you would charge someone money to tell you about your personality that you are already well aware of? I have no idea. But I was impressionable and touchy feely and thought it was real.

Then I completed my Bachelor of Psychology at uni, and had all the life sucked out of me. No one tells you this when you enrol, but all psych is is pretty much calculating the statistical likelihood of treatments working, and writing lifeless shit like, "There is a 95% probability that treatment X is no different to treatment Y on item Z." Doing science kills all spirituality. Now I know why the Vatican get all hot and bothered under their vestigial tabs (you know, those little cut-out things on their collar) when anyone mentions science.

So I finished my degree with a testamur (now collecting mould in my cupboard), some fancy letters that I can theoretically put beside my name (if I want to sound like a complete wanky fuckwit) and a cynical view of everything in the world. Some might say that I'm worse off.

All these years of testing the effects of various treatments on the human brain or behavioural output has made me a hardcore cynic. So when my boyfriend recently suggested that I eat raw garlic to get over my cough, I wasn't too sure. He absolutely swears on it, and I don't mean swallowing it whole or hiding it amongst food. I mean in a "here's a clove of garlic, watch me chew it slowly and masochistically" kind of way. But another three people suggested it to me, so I figured I might as well give it a go.

The result? I'm still utterly sick, oozing illness out of every pore. And my breath reeks. And because Coles only sold garlic in four-packs, I have three whole garlic things sitting in my kitchen. I would almost say that at least I'll repel vampires, except I don't believe in the supernatural anymore...

I actually researched raw garlic... apparently it's good for acne. And for damaging your digestive tract. How wonderful. And apparently, you're meant to use rather small amounts of raw garlic. I also apparently seem to be using the word "apparently" far too much.