back2black

I recently just finished watching the second seasons of two of my very most favourite shows: Orphan Black and Orange is the New Black. Both very different, but both mesmerising. (Coincidentally, they both have an IMDb rating of 8.5.)

 

Orphan Black is a sci-fi thriller about a woman who discovers she’s a clone. Before you think that it’s been done before—not like this. The characterisation of the clones is superb. Tatiana Maslany is an acting phenomenon, playing (to date) twelve different clones, at least five of them regularly. Although they are played by the same person, not once do you get the characters confused, so clearly are they depicted by the flawless Maslany (unless it’s one clone pretending to be another clone—it happens, trust me; these scenarios may also have made me love Maslany even more. Sometimes one clone might have to step in for another, and we know what’s happening, which makes it even more entertaining to watch a streetwise Londoner pretend to be an uptight American soccer mom). She holds her body differently, speaks differently, acts differently for each of the different clones she plays. If you watch Orphan Black for anything, watch it for her.

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(Above: Alison fixing Sarah-acting-as-Alison.)

The plot, as well, is entrancing. At turns edge-of-your-seat anxiety, and at others heartbreakingly tragic, and at yet others painfully funny. The atmospheres are handled masterfully, and everything ties into the greater mystery of how and why the clones came to be. Season two did not disappoint, picking up where season one left off, but steadily introducing even more minor mysteries that are actually part of the larger web. It mixes the stuff of science-fiction dreams with Greek mythology seamlessly, and is an incredible experience to be taken along for the ride. A little bit of violence, but nothing unwarranted (I don’t think). Highly recommended.

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(Above: Tatiana Maslany as Cosima comforting herself as Sarah.)

Orange is the New Black, on the other hand, is a drama set in a women’s prison. The first season followed, primarily, Piper Chapman, as she was sentenced guilty for a crime she committed ten years ago. I think we were meant to feel sorry for her, but I could never connect with her. However, apart from the early episodes of each season, each episode follows a ‘minor’ character, delving into their backstory and showing who they were before they were imprisoned, and why they ended up here.

Image(“V” trying to give The Fault in our Stars—a book about kids with terminal cancer—to Miss Rosa, a woman dying from cancer.)

The characterisation in this show, too, is phenomenal. Characters I’d dismissed as just quirky background noise suddenly became clear, and they had a voice. It was amazing to learn more about these characters, and they were presented magnificently (I think all of the actresses and actors in this show deserve an award). I think what was most satisfying though was that at the end of both seasons, all that you learnt about the characters tied in to the finale’s climax. The last scenes of the second season are still quite vivid in my mind (I think I’m still processing, although I finished watching it on Thursday!). I can’t recommend this show enough, although the sex (and sexual references) is quite gratuitous, so if you don’t like that, I’d steer away. There is violence, but it didn’t seem over the top or gratuitous (to me). Definitely, definitely recommend.

(Below, to leave you: Morello trying to describe Toy Story from her…unique…perspective.)

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So that’s what I’ve been doing when I should have been studying for my Modernism exam tomorrow. Whoops. Also, I’ve been cast as Mr. Teavee in a local production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but I have to put on an American accent (not a forte of mine). What have you guys been up to? Has anyone else seen Orphan Black or Orange is the New Black? What do you think of them?

And so it begins…

So, it’s just after 1AM on the 1/1/2014. I’m a little late writing this post (should have scheduled it or something, but whatevs) but just wanted to wish my lovely followers the best for 2014. For most of you, the New Year is tomorrow, so I’ll leave you with this quote:

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. — Brad Paisley

All the best for the year ahead...thought I'd give the internet another snapshot of me, at 1AM on 1/1/2014.

All the best for the year ahead…thought I’d give the internet another snapshot of me, at 1AM on 1/1/2014.

The Weight of Souls — Book Review

As I sit here, hot chocolate by my side and rain thundering outside, I am glad to say that my holidays have been very full. I’ve had five weeks of church camps, acting at the local theatre, family and friend get-togethers, job hunting, movie watching and book reading. I also got my uni marks for last semester back, and I’m pleased to report that I went extremely well in all of my subjects. (Yeah, I know, I’m real modest.)

Somewhere in there I received an ARC in the mail: a book for me to review, free of charge. I think it’s obvious that I was excited. Plus, I received a little card signed by the author and a little ghost charm (it’s themed, don’t worry). And it was a Strange Chemistry book—an imprint of Angry Robot, a publisher I love. So, awesomeness in a little cardboard package arrived at my house that day.

Bryony Pearce’s novel The Weight of Souls gripped me immediately with its story of ghost-avenger and struggling teenager, Taylor Oh. It had the perfect mix of fantasy and reality, of ancient curses and broken friendships. It took me a week and a half to read it, but I had read half of it in two days before I left for a four-night camp, which was followed by two nights of performances in the play I was in. Cut me some slack, you fast-readers you.

Cover for WEIGHT OF SOULS

A pleasing mix of China, Egypt and magic…

The main character is of Asian descent (‘Oh’ is generally a pretty good indicator of that, as is the cover), and the rest of the character cast is pleasantly multicultural. But don’t let that sway your opinion one way or the other, because it really doesn’t add much to the story. The most her being Chinese means is that bullies can direct racial slurs her way. Anyway, it was nice to read something where different ethnicities aren’t that big a deal. As they shouldn’t be.

Know that this is a YA novel. It shouldn’t make a difference, because the best YA should be universal, but I do feel like the plot is dumbed down a bit. And I’m getting really sick of the ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ endings. I mean, the novel is obviously set up for at least one sequel, but does everything have to go so swimmingly all the time? My favourite ending of any story would have to be at the end of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials — but no spoilers for those of you who haven’t read the trilogy yet!

All in all though, this was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the second one in the series (as there has to be after an ending like that!). I’m tossing up between three and a half stars, or four stars. Meh, what the heck: four stars it is. Well done Bryony!

Stuck in the doldrums of literature…

So I haven’t finished a book in…ooh, four months? I know, I know. But hear me out. I’ve started so many books, but then I always get interrupted with life: uni, chores, friends. Not that I mind, but I wish I could just finish a book for once. I think once I finish a book, I’ll get back into the swing of things, and perhaps be able to keep my attention focussed long enough to read more.

See, I’ll start a book, read maybe 250 pages, then leave it for a few days (or weeks, whatever) and when I come back to it, I feel lost and confused — but not bothered to start it again. I’m a slow reader; I can admit this freely and without shame. However, it does frustrate me that to enjoy a book (even only a slim one) can take me up to a week, and that’s without reading anything else.

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Maybe not THIS slow…

I’ve decided to put away all the books I’d started on, and to just begin afresh. It made me feel so much better. I didn’t realise the pile of books was haunting me so much. If you’re interested, the books I’ve started (some of which I’ve even read over half of) include (but are not limited to):

And yesterday I started E.M. Forster‘s Howards End, but got distracted by a second hand bookstore in a hospital and am now reading Robert Cormier‘s I am the Cheese. Not to mention that I’ve got about a dozen more books to read for uni for next semester. So much for a break. When will this madness stop?

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And I read faster than this statue does. I think…

Does anyone else have this problem? Please tell me I’m not the only one! (Comments and/or encouragement would be more than welcome.)

Who else is excited for THE GREAT GATSBY?

Okay, so the Australian premiere of The Great Gatsby is tonight, which is pretty exciting stuff. For any international readers out there, have you seen the film yet? Was it any good? If you haven’t, are you going to? Are you as excited as I am? (Hint: I’m very excited.) Have you read the book? High expectations for the film? Low ones?

Film poster for THE GREAT GATSBY.

Doesn’t this poster look so awesome and steampunkish? Makes me want to see it even more!

I’d love for you to leave a ten word review if you’ve seen it! (Need I say, ‘No spoilers’? I should hope not!) Or just comment for the heck of it. I love replying to you guys!

You should date a guy who writes

Date a guy who writes. Date a guy whose fingers are stained with ink, whose pockets are filled with pens, and whose eyes smile and dance with curiosity. Date a guy who notices things like the colour of your hair and the way you have your coffee, not because he has to, but just because it’s a habit of his to notice things. Date a guy who can barely get around a computer, but is expert with his word processor. It doesn’t matter; he prefers pen and paper anyway.

Find a guy who writes. You’ll find him just outside a library. He’ll like the idea of being outside, on the verge of a thousand worlds, a few steps away. He’ll love the idea of being outside, on the brink of one world, a few carefully placed letters away.

Or he will be inside a café. He doesn’t care whether it’s boutique or Gloria Jeans, moodily or well lit, though he likes it there especially when it’s raining. He will be the one with a notebook in one hand, pen in the other, lounging back and trying to think of how to best word what he wants to say next. Buy him a coffee. Or a tea. Or a hot chocolate. Buy him something to eat, too. He’d forgotten about food and he needs help remembering. Understand that he wants to talk to you, but if he drifts off for a moment, or bends forward to hurriedly scribble something, it’s because you’ve inspired him. This is a good thing.

Ask him what he’s writing. If he shows you, he’s being honest, exposing his heart. Return the favour. Tell him how his work makes you feel, not how you feel about his work. He’s sensitive, but eager to become better. He will love when you get what he’s on about, when you laugh at his jokes, admire the way he plays with words, adore his imagery, recognises his references. He will love you when you love his work. If he doesn’t show you, don’t be disheartened. He isn’t ready yet, but he will be. It will be all the sweeter for the wait.

He will spend hours with you, entranced with you. He tries to fathom you, but he knows he won’t ever completely, and he’s okay with this. In fact, this makes him feel kind of glad. He likes complex characters. He wants to create them, and being around them helps.

Kiss him. You have to be first, because he’s not sure whether he’s misreading the signals. He would hate to confuse the tendrils of a daydream with the jarring of reality. You have to be first because he’s too scared to lose you. After that, he will lose himself in you, without hesitation. There’s no misreading that first kiss.

Don’t lie to him. He won’t lie to you because he hopes you’ll be honest with him. Show integrity. He appreciates that. Then again, lie to him. He loves your complexity, and the cadence of your untruths will ensnare him, your weaving of excuses will remind him that humanity is duplicitous in its very nature. He likes being reminded of humanity.

Tell him when you fail. He understands. He will fail, too. He knows he will eventually have editors and proofreaders for mistakes. He knows he has you for when he fails. He hopes you will have him when you do the same.

Complain to him, tell him how your day was. It may not be relevant to his story, but he’ll want to hear your voice. He’ll store these details away and use them when even you have forgotten. He will remember. It’s a habit.

Make him do things spontaneously. Experiment with him. Make him do things he would never do. He will love you for this, because sometimes he wishes he could do the things he writes about, be the characters he dreams of. You can make this happen.

He will propose to you. Probably with a slip of paper, words neatly printed, hidden inside a fountain pen you gave him, or in place of the bookmark you always use. He may not say anything out loud, but his heart is screaming for you. Know that he finds comfort in the written word, in its solidarity, in its stasis. For him, the written word is true, and does not change. Remember, he is a writer, and this is who he is. Accept this, and you accept him.

You will have children. They will grow up, fed on a diet of strange worlds and captivating snapshots of language and wild turns of phrases, become accustomed to the essence of images distilled by the purity of a pen. Even better, they also will write.

They will grow old, and you will realise that you, too, have grown older. He’d made you forget with his homespun tales. Or maybe it was that habit of his that you’d made your own: you drift off again.

He dies. Or you die. It doesn’t matter who goes first, the other won’t be far behind. But neither of you are really dead. He has captured a little of you in everything he’s written, a little of himself, too. You both live on through his words, eternally entwined.

You should date a guy who writes.

[Also found deviantART and on tumblr.]

Some me in the absence of me

Video

So…it’s been a while now since I’ve posted something. And I still don’t quite have the time to post a whole, er, something, so I’m posting this video of me last July, that my friend edited and put up on her YouTube account a few months ago. Because I’m being fashionably late, you see.

Basically, I shaved my hair to raise money for breast cancer (I raised $160, which was alright, but not as much as I’d hoped), and if you feel like laughing at my awkward self, then go right ahead and enjoy the video!

Also, in other news, uni is going swimmingly (apart from assignments — but that’s to be expected), and I’m currently reading We Need to Talk About Kevin which is utterly amazing and a complete work of art (I say, only 180 pages in — proof enough that I’m smitten), and have nearly finished Buffy season five / Angel season two (oh, the dramz! the feelz!). But anyway, what are you guys reading/watching? Anything particularly awesome you want to rave about? (Leave a comment, because I love replying to them!)

Ode to the Novel

You thirst for the completion

That opening this trove of

Treasure can – will – bring.

Beyond rhyme or reason, you

Know only the clots of ink

Will satisfy you.

 

You crack its spine, relishing

In its dusty, primal scent,

Its papery flesh.

The lifeblood of literature

Spills over your hands, congealed

Already. You eat.

 

Gorged on imagination,

You drain the dregs, bittersweet,

Head tilted backwards.

You cry yourself to sleep, scared

This is the only way you’ll

Feel emotion.

 

So you stroke it (bloated, full),

Creativity’s creature,

A drug; side effects

Include nausea, distress,

Sleeplessness and sleepiness.

You are tainted, quenched.

So, my life has been quite hectic during the past few days (if you’re interested, reading this article will help — the children involved in the accident were my brother and two sisters, one of which has a broken rib, contused kidney and had to have an operation on her abdomen), but it’s nice to take some time out and work on a bit of poetry. Plus, it also knocks over some homework for my Creative Writing class. Two birds, one stone…

Any feedback or opinions are greatly appreciated! I’m a tough cookie so don’t be afraid to really tell me what needs fixing, what doesn’t work, etc. Thanks for reading!

I’m back! With a review!

Okay, so after a bit of a hiatus in my blogging activity, it’s [relatively] safe to say that I’m back after being sick, making the most of my last few days of freedom, and getting ready for university (which I start on Monday! *squeal of excitement* ).

But, while I was going to review a couple of things…I’ve forgotten what exactly I was going to review. I do remember one thing I was going to review though, and that is Susan Hill‘s gothic ghost story, The Woman in Black. The past few weeks in Australia have been far from sunny, although it was supposedly ‘summer’. Heh. Figures. This means that it has been perfect weather for hot chocolates and ghost stories! I haven’t read The Turn of the Screw or the similarly-named Woman in White, so I thought this might be a nice introduction into the gothic ghost story: the book is a slim 200 pages, and the movie stars Daniel Radcliffe, so there was always the option of watching that afterwards, and besides, it looked like the perfect read while the weather was gloomy. (I thought the weather woul be temporarily gloomy. It seems that we have temporarily become England with our dismal weather over the past several weeks. *sigh* Don’t get me wrong, I love the rain, and I want to go to England in a few years, but Australia isn’t designed for so much rain…flooded roads being the least of my problems.)

Hot Chocolate and Ghost Stories

It seemed the perfect weather to settle down with a hot mug of cocoa (complete with whipped cream and cinnamon, of course) and begin to read a ghost story set on a cold, dark, isolated island…

I digress. The review. Right. Okay…so the book was…longwinded. And that’s putting it politely. I understand how Hill was trying to emulate the great authors of Gothicism, but it just made it boring and amateurish. The greatest part of the novel was the end, when the ‘twist’, if you can call it that, finally appears and the story is OVER. I think that the movie will do a much better job of this story (I’m yet to see it) because of the duration and more visually compelling elements that are inherent in well-made films. Plus music! Music would have done a much better job to set the atmosphere than Hill’s wordy descriptions. I did hear that this was made into a play, and I think that was what the novel should have been in the first place.

I rate it ★★★☆☆ purely because the novel was such a drag to read to get to the juicy parts of the story. I actually have more faith in the film, which is rare to have after reading a novel, but it’s the unfortunate truth. I’m hesitant to read more of Hill’s work, for fear of encountering more cumbersome descriptions in a lame attempt to set the mood. Leave it to the masters that HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN THIS STORY. Overworked and overdone, this was like chewy toffee, at times sweet, and other times bitter. I’ve finally swallowed the toffee, although it did take a few teeth out in the meantime.