Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kill Bill Rocks

That's both volumes, though Vol. 1 just beats 2 by a hair's breath. Just. Stylistically, it's beautiful. The colour and lighting takes my breath away every time I see it. Favourite scene? O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth) and Beatrix Kiddo (The Bride) squaring off in the snow outside The House of Blue Leaves to the tune of Santa Esmeralda's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". Tarantino has seldom been that good before or after.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remake Report

So Hollywood's been remaking all these horror movies of late (and others, but that's not relevant to my gripe), and the latest to be put through the remake ringer is A Nightmare on Elm Street. The first instalment in this series scared the shit out of me (I was thirteen); not particularly all the gore and violence, but the psychological freak-fest of Freddy Krueger coming to get you when you fall asleep. Cause really, you can try and stay up for as long as you can, but eventually...

Even though I no longer watch horror movies, I was kind of "ah jeez" when the remake robot announced itself again with this latest pick. The terrifying premise of this film asserts the originality of the plot (something lacking in most films, and especially in the horror genre), and my immediate reaction was "Oh no, they're gonna fuck it up."

Now why would I care if I have no intention whatsoever of seeing the film? Simple. Because I believe in the integrity of original concepts and the underlying metaphors they carry. For those who haven't seen the original, I'm not going to go into too much detail, but the first sign that they're missing the pot already is in that they have replaced the original Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) with the newly cast Rooney Mara who, according to will be "more of an outsider goth girl" as opposed to Langenkamp's "all-American sweetheart".

Well. Anybody else see a huge underlying difference between turning the vanquisher of a child molester from a suburban, blonde-girl-next-door into an outsider goth-kid? Oh wait - does that make it cooler?

The blonde-girl-next-door: innocence, both of self and of the world at large, derived mostly from blonde, white-wearing gothic tropes locked up in castles with scary monsters

The goth-girl-outsider: not so much innocence as an inference of experience and knowledge about the world, found mostly in stories where the heroine already knows what she has to do but comes to her task reluctantly.

I'm making things terribly simplistic here of course, but I'm not going to write an essay about it... But does anyone else see how these different representations of the heroine undermines the event of Nancy eventually overcoming Freddy? In the original, Nancy is a symbol of uncorrupted innocence who gains experience and grows through her trials with Krueger. If the remake posits a character who already (by inference) possess these qualities, will the audience still care as much about her journey the second time around? Will the impact of her actions deliver the same emotional punch? Am I reading too much into what is essentially a two-hour movie of schlock entertainment?

Well, see, my position is this: we go to see movies for very specific reasons, and some of those reasons we may not even be aware of. Symbols and metaphors, when used well, work that way. I can't help but think that, by making Nancy a hip goth-chick, the story is trying to infer that our modern heroines are NOT afraid, are NOT innocent, that we know EVERYTHING right from the start and all we need is a little kick up the backside to make us do the right thing.

Are we that scared? Do we refuse to believe anymore that we are sometimes the innocents who have to face the Monster with no experience, no guns, no goth-attitude? Because that's a lot of bullshitting in the space of two hours.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Six Shooter: Brenda Cooper

The first installment in a series of short interviews I'm doing for Suite101 is now up. The lovely Brenda Cooper gives six answers to six questions about among others favourite books and which fictional character she would like to be for a day.

Six Shooter: Brenda Cooper

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vote, My Beloved Country

It's national voting day in South Africa. I had the chance to cast my vote here in Wellington, on the other side of the world, a week ago. I miss the vibrancy and excitement of the continent, the sense of (slow) change, but change nonetheless. The Rainbow Nation will always be my home. I miss it. But things need to change.

"Because of the role the ANC has played in the struggle, and in the first years of our freedom, most people would have tended to vote ANC...Now, it is no longer quite so straightforward. People are asking questions, which is a good thing, I mean, that is what a democracy is." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

(Source - BBC News)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lyrics I Love

"That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed

That I would be loved even when I was fuming

That I would be good even if I was clingy

That I would be good even if I lost sanity"

That I Would Be Good - Alanis Morissette

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Get Off It.

Christ - I am so over people bashing Dan Brown's books. Right, so he's not Nietzsche, but really, do we need another one of those?

He may not be the world's greatest writer, but damn, he can make you turn a page. He tells a good story. And the cherry on top is that he makes people engage in debate on important topics. Who wouldn't want to see the Vatican get blown up? I kid. But seriously, I think conspiracy theories serve as a means of puzzling over political and religious intricacies, engage us in speculative thinking, because sometimes you need a little torrid imagination to shovel your way through the shit and get to the proper answer. The reason why people roll their eyes when they meet someone who takes conspiracy theories just a little bit serious is because the theories go against institutional analysis. Formal rules and law. God forbid anyone should think that they might be wrong.

Mr Brown - you can write me another Langdon any time. I can't wait for The Lost Symbol and the inevitable controversy that will follow. But Blake was right - standing water breeds nothing but poison. Things need to move. And Dan Brown sure does that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Say, This Looks Cool...


Donoogle, the donation Google, is a search engine with a difference, we donate our profits to charity. Every time you do a search on, we get paid a little (really little) bit of money. You choose from one of our charities & we will give a big chunk of that little bit of money to that charity.


Friday, April 17, 2009

For Writers Who Like To Listen To Score While Writing...

... I found a great radio station on Live365 called ScifiRadio. They play film scores from a wide variety of sf and genre films, with the odd dialogue clip thrown in to bring out the geek fangirl/guy in you. Great stuff! My new favourite. Best of all -- it's totally free.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon Failed. Now What?

Ok. So. Amazon failed. For whatever reason, when they removed the ratings for GLBT and other "adult" titles, they did authors and publishers a huge disservice. Themselves, too. Apparently, Amazon has already lost a cool $80 mill over this fiasco.

Now what?

Will you stop supporting them? Buy those hard to get books from small dealers who have to order them from Timbuktu (or straight from the publisher on the other side of the world if you're lucky)? Boycott totally and utterly the Giant That Is Amazon?

Personally, I think that's the wrong approach. All that is likely to do is take away from GLBT authors and presses revenue that no doubt make up a very large part of their sales. Whether we like it or not, Amazon means easy access for many folk who live far away from the nearest decent bookstore. Even here, where I am in the capital of New Zealand (Wellington), books are extremely expensive. It's cheaper for me to order a book via Amazon than to buy one locally, even with postage included. If a local shop does not have it and have to order it, it is likely to cost me almost double. (I have eclectic tastes). So in my case, if I don’t buy my books from Amazon, I'm not buying them at all. And all that does is hurt the author financially.

I'm the first one to shout and scream about multinationals. But few things in life are black and white, and if we are really honest with ourselves, the damn grey whiff and wafts in everywhere. Yes, Amazon should have apologised by now, preferably on the home page of their website. Yes, they should accept responsibility. Yes, the GLBT community (and everyone else who rightfully did so) should have reacted the way they did and cause Twitter to be the Twit-Spawn in everyone's side. (I'm a Twit, too). But should we be condemning anything—anyone—before we have all the evidence? Some of the evidence?

Granted, we will probably never know what really happened. But to throw out Amazon like the proverbial baby with the bathwater would be a mistake that could potentially end up hurting GLBT writers—all writers—even further.

My two cents.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Got Nostalgic. Just For A Moment.

Mentioning Alice Pieszecki in the previous post made me think about The L Word, and that really, there was only one good thing about that show. Alice's Chart.

And Dana. And The Soup Chef.

Amazon Strips "Adult" Books Of Sales Ratings

In a bizarre move, Amazon has stripped books that they classify as "adult" from their sales ratings, including work by Alan Moore and -- here's the kicker -- ALL GLBT titles. This is censorship out and out, and we should definitely not let them get away with it.

"In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature."

I'm curious as to what prompted Amazon to do this; their reasons above doesn't convince me. Surely they wouldn't have done so out of their own accord, as it hurts their sales. Alan Moore for instance, is huge, and by making people potentially not find his books earns them less money.) They must have received pressure from somewhere...


PS: Books about Hitler still have rankings. But it probably contains only violence, not sex. And books such as I Love Female Orgasm and PC games like Grand Theft Auto still have their ratings. Alice Pieszecki used to say: "What the fuck!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eighties Grit

Is it just me or is one of the reasons for eighties movies being so enjoyable the fact that they look real in comparison with current films? Like buildings. They look… solid. And cars look… solid. Maybe it has something to do with the film being used but it seems like they slap filters on everything nowadays.

Or maybe the eighties were just the Best.Decade.Ever.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Break! Break! Break! Mid-term Break!

A mid-term break has never as welcome as this one. From now untill April 27 I am officially on university-holiday! Yay! That means no classes, no getting up early to catch the bus and that I can have a little more time for writing. Fiction, that is. But before I stop talking about school - I have posted a link to Youtube of a rendition in Arabic of the 99 names of God/Allah. The lecturer for one of my Religious Studies papers played this in class this week (for a section on the Qur'an and the Islamic point of view of whether God could have a body). Hook it up to some good speakers if you can. I must admit, it was wonderful to hear at high volume on those kitted systems the lecture theatres have. I'm privileged, and I don't think I realise this often enough. I get to learn about all these things that excite and interest me and it gives me an informed view of a world that is so damn complex we will probably never understand it.

Al-Asma-ul-Husna (99 Names of Allah/God)

My brain is tired, though, and I have decided to do nothing but watch 80's movies for the next two to three days. It's a failsafe strategy that never fails to work. Also, the temperature has decided to drop in the last few days, so I won't need much persuasion that I'm not supposed to leave the bed. I have two cats who will keep me warm - Jen is away in Auckland until Sunday morning. I struggle to shut off though, and though I handed in two essays within the space of a week from one another I am already thinking of my next topics due in two months. I will have to spend some time of the break studying William Wordsworth's The Prelude, which is fantastically long, but splendidly awesome. The man could write, ok?

I have been making notes in my head obsessively for book one of the Strickland Diaries and I need to get them out. It's time I start actually having a notebook. Close-by and always.

What am I watching tonight... The Spy Who Loved Me! Roger Moore - man, that guy - Best Bond ever. I'm sorry, but neither Brosnan nor Craig stands a chance. As for Sean Connery, he'll always be Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez to me.

"You have the manners of a goat and you smell like a dung-heap. And you've no knowledge whatsoever of your potential. Now, get out!"