Leaving (3)

She was fading quickly. The ivory white blended with her gown, the rate she was sprinting tells me that it was impossible to reach her. The distance is too long, my speed was too slow – for some queer reason nature had a way of sucking people into unfathomable dimensions, and she was one of the unfortunate experiments. I was just the control experiment, lacking of any reactants to push me forth. All I could see were the splashes she makes while running; the accelerating pace of her footsteps; the swaying of her soaked hair –

Something protruded my skin. Stabbed, to be more accurate. The stinging sensation rushed up, the sharp pain mangled with my frustrations, overwhelming my nerves. I looked back just to see tiny needles prickling my legs, these tiny objects covering most of my back, forming dots of blood and painting wiggly, irregular streaks of bright red. My vision started to blotch in crimson, the sourness of blood wafting to my nostrils, my thighs felt so powerless and tired. The needles kept sticking onto my skin, piercing my veins and blotching my pale skin with candy red coloration. The red came flooding in, at first drop-wise, then forming a puddle, and further on the road, began to faze in with the water.

It was pitch dark.

 

Leaving (2)

It was her hazel browns that caught my attention – sparkly and full of jovial exuberance. Her entrancing smile would light up the nose, her slight wrinkling of her nose, the intertwining of her slender fingers – everything about her was the epitome of beauty. Her angelic presence, her airy tone, her unintended chuckles, her rosy blush were all magnetic to attention and love. The way she brushed the strand of hair back, the way she covers her dainty mouth when she laughs, the way she focuses on her work with the pouted lips were engraved in my mind with intricate details.

All I could do was to run after her: to clench her forearm and pull her back before it was too late. The corridor glistened with an occasional raindrop that smeared on the walls, the sweat dripping from my forehead. I welcomed the patters of rain hitting on my body, the bouncing off my skin as I rushed to catch up with Alejandra’s pace.

As the miles stretched on, I realized there was no way I could go up to her and turn her back to where sanity lies. Curtain after curtain of rain splattered on me, obstructing my running. I was completely soaked from head to toe, with droplets of rainwater dangling from my bangs, mystifying my vision as I saw the white figure ahead of me frantically running along the endless passageway.

Biting down my lip, I summoned all of my strength as I charged with an unspeakable fury – my emotions swirling while our memories drip-dropped into mixture contained in my heart. While my sanity screamed for me to halt, to stop before I catch a cold in this pouring rain, telling me that there is no practical use when she is evidently miles away, my heart summons me to go straightforward. The blank walls flew past me as I stormed my way through the shower, her hair swaying past my face, her silly-sounding laughter whirled around, her slender fingers tapping my shoulders, everything about her were enveloping my mind – her floral scent invasive to my nostrils, her gentle touch making my skin tingle, her sweet voice ricocheting off the walls into my ears.

‘Why would you leave me deserted?’   

‘Why would you have the conscience to abandon me in this caliginous world?’

She replied with her resonating silence.

On Music

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John Mayer 

I’ve always thought of myself as a versatile music-lover: I’m open and into all sorts of genres, obsessed with all types of singers/bands, and have memorized album after album of lyrics etc. No matter rock, rhythm and blues, metal or jazz, I would gladly mash them up in Mixxx (Poor chaps like me have no other alternative than using free software to create remixes in a amateur fashion), creating eccentric remixes while seeking for solutions to mediocre reverb effects (no shade to the software – it’s about the best you can find for free).

Many would ask: What would I appreciate/look for in a good piece of music? Would it be the level of handsomeness/beauty the singers possess? Would it be that hook that strums your heartstrings and stops your heartbeat? Would it be the rhythm that makes your head bob involuntarily. In my (very unprofessional, layman) opinion, what makes up a spectacular score is lyrics, and lyrics only.

Lyrics, in my humble opinion, are the soul of the piece of music: a iridescent moment, a split second, a message to be brought out. I believe this is exactly why cheap, cliched lyrics that (some) pop songs have completely dragged the melody and rhythm (no matter how great they are) into the mud without care. It’s no use shoving the same old ‘on my knees’ phrases into sad romantic ballads, nor is it of any good to showcase your battered relationships and threading them into albums (yes, I’m talking about Taylor Swift). Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it’s an issue if an artist chooses to express him/herself via lyrics, but if you’re just manipulating the month-old relationship and spinning it off to first, play victim; second, being vindictive to past lovers who did her/him no wrong on purpose; third, garner more attention for your monetary interests (aka using gimmicks to attain album sales). Truth be told, some of her lyrics are up to par and decent in the past decade to teenagers – for sure, it makes sense and paints a dainty picture of how much wreckage relationships could be. However, when you steer clear of the all-too-trashy lyrics that drone on and on about sappy romantic endeavors (that most of us won’t understand anyways) or some silly public feud that we can relate to but not hum to – you get gems like John Mayer, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, so on and so forth. Ranging from melodramatic and poetic lines from my all-time favorite artist John Mayer,  Until there’s fog inside the glass around your summer heart ‘‘Sometimes, I wish that I was the weather
you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day’,
to the blood rushing lines that Fall Out Boy had, ‘It’s just past 8 and I’m feeling young and reckless. The ribbon on my wrist says, “Do not open before Christmas.” 

Sometimes I feel like if we could really envelop ourselves in quality music, to immerse ourselves in the glory of intricate writing, to bask ourselves in the Sunday shine where music flows endlessly in streams.

 

On ‘Roasting’

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As the category ‘casual jots and dots’ suggests, this post has to hold an air of casualness along with some hilarity, but for peeps that know me well – most of the jokes that come out of my mouth are self-deprecating (very). Self-roasting is certainly nothing foreign for me – given that I have a sassy demeanor and sarcastic tongue, no one can truly handle the fury I can unleash. It is thus, understandable that I am titled as a ‘savage’ if I ever have the guts to scorn others.

Roasting, to most of you, is no eccentric topic either – ranging from Ryan Higa’s YouTube challenge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD2Mhw6Xsis) , to Comedy Central’s very own Roast Battles between internationally acclaimed comics like Jimmy Carr and Sarah Tiana. If you are a stranger to this term, worry not, urban dictionary itself explains it – ‘to humorously mock or humiliate someone with a well-timed joke, diss or comeback.’  (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Roast)

But if we delve into the depths of roasting – what makes roasts ‘funny’ ?  For me personally, I would consider several of these elements as the rudimentary requirements for a mean/sassy roast:

  1. Delivery

As an amateur debater/public speaker, I have a bit of trouble with delivering speeches/jokes in the correct pacing/timing – thus it appeals to me when the joke comes in all the correct hits to maximize its impacts. A good roast is all about the harmless commencement, the inconspicuous drop of hints, and the final delivery of the punchline at the exact moment. Many of the unknown stand-up comics might be giving the popular ones a run for their money for the brainstorming of ideas/making up jokes, but their lack of good pacing, pauses and gestures take out the gist of the fun. For your reference, Moshe Kasher is a pretty decent chap with tons of well- elaborated stories rolling – but this routine was less of what I expected from the usual pokerface, awkward and nerdy Kasher that I liked (this is the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9lMGjBEJW8&list=PLD7nPL1U-R5qsyLTu7bJsMNX5mbgbWlN8). Meanwhile, the timing and pacing for comics like Frankie Boyle and Kevin Hart are absolutely brilliant at grasping them – giving their jokes much more impact.

2. Gestures

Definitely a big fan of this – I’ve been brought up watching a lot of Fluffy aka Gabriel Iglesias shows. His gestures are phenomenal, which makes the show much more lively – he’s often closing car doors, kicking his chubby legs out and mimicking the sounds of car engines, back-and-forth. At the end of the day, it would be an awesome experience just there watching him (this is imo, one of the best collections of his work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44EPY9Y8V_A)

3. Relatability

Of course anything Hong Kong-related would be perfect – but who could blame a girl for falling for British accents and American food and a lot of other cultures when she was brought up in an environment where everything fuses together. Naturally, I understood local slangs in foreign areas (many thanks to urban dictionary and YouTube gangsters), which could be a tad awkward when Mexicans call you their ‘puta’ in a friendly manner and you take it the wrong way. Anyways, for roasts – don’t dig something up to personal to an extent that others have no idea who the ‘Jennifer’ is in the story. Not only is it ruining the fun, it’s also making the comic like an imbecile who laughs at jokes that aren’t funny at all. As many of my mentors for public speaking and debating have said, the content matters a lot – and gimmicks don’t make jokes last long.

As far as I can rant on this, I will say the aforementioned are the most crucial for the construction of a thoughtful and quirky piece that could make others laugh. Not a true critic of comics, nor am I an unprofessional comic, just my two cents on the matter.

Book review on Rose Madder – a Stephen King novel

I have an obsession with horror/thriller flicks/novels – a fact proven to be both time-consuming (considering how much of a couch potato i can be when movies of the said genre come on) and unhealthy (considering how un-mainstream this is). Nonetheless, as a half-biased reader, I’d like to offer my own opinion on one of the most recent novels I’ve read – Rose Madder.(despite being an unprofessional critic)

Rose Madder – a rosy color (a flushed,pink shade) that most know by, is a 1995 novel that I haven’t discovered till the fateful day my brother fished it out of the bottom of a nameless stall amid the countless booths set up in the book fair. Seeing as I have never read it – he kindly purchased it and got reimbursed for HKD$59.90 (very cheap for a Stephen King novel) while I began to flick through the pages.

Having read many of Stephen King’s novels/short story collections, I knew what was coming: A innocuous commencement with hints dropping left and right, a building-up that keeps you on the edge, the anticlimax that makes you skid off the seat (I assure you it’s a common occurrence), then the ominous ending that gives you chills (or not, some do have marvelous endings) – and after reading this, it contradicted everything I knew (or at least I thought I knew) about his horror novels.

First of all, King’s piece was a tad to straight-forward with the gore. The beginning was just a thrust-in-your-face horrific: the stranded lady Rosie Daniels got beaten up by her husband, Norman Daniels, resulting in a very bloody miscarriage. Norman turns out to be her first love, a well-praised policeman/golden boy, whilst also being a psychopath who has a fetish of biting and raping women. As the plot carries on, we can blatantly see how much of a misogynist Norman is, beating his wife ruthlessly, biting prostitutes (a witness in the case), often objectifying and murdering women he encounters on various occasions.

I was not accustomed to this style of writing that even King himself stated was a bit, ‘stiff, try-too-hard’ – sure, it was a lot to take in with a lot of blood and gore, but it was also unlike King to be overtly descriptive of the ‘bloody’ scenes. In one of the ending scenes as Norman stuck a letter-opener into the throat of a cop – it is written,’the wound in his throat gaped open around the blade like the gill of a fish and more blood squirted onto the collar of his shirt.’, which is definitely not the best line of prose I can come across at 3 a.m. in the early morning.

Secondly, the reference to the Greek mythology felt forced, a bit too far-fetched. Although I was not a huge fanatic for fantasies and myths – for better deciphering of Rose Madder, I began browsing site after site for information that furthers my understanding on the matter. At the end of the day, the coherence between the story and the myth is disappointing – Erinyes was meant to be somewhat of a menacing yet blind bull-like creature in the novel, and in the fantasies itself he should have hairs like snakes (Medusa-sque) and dog heads (and a bunch of animal parts blended and mashed together). The stepping-into the picture with the woman portion of the novel (which took at least a good 200 pages) was unfortunately unconvincing, perhaps due to my paucity of imagination of dilapidated monument and a goddess-like figure. Aside from the latter parts of the chapter with the goddess-like Rosie (the mythical one) biting into Norman, which certainly has a sting in it (pun intended) and is an irony itself, the fantasy that Rosie can step into a portrait to a mythical place is haplessly puzzling to me.

Having said that, I’d also like to say that it was a very courageous move for King to incorporate these elements into his tales – a very rare and fresh take on how I perceive his works and also showcases his creativity to twist Greek myths around to his own flavor. Regardless of the alien style of writing King employed in the said story, I can also see King’s lyrical writing coming through in certain parts of the novel, which particularly enjoyed – the wordplay, the smooth transitions, the detailing, the ambiance setting were all impeccable. Leaving the myths and legends behind, the referencing back-and-forth in the novel were intriguing – the iconic scenes where Rosie gazes upon the drop of blood on the bed, the transitioning between Norman’s and Rosie’s perspectives were all quintessential.

Rose Madder is surely not the best work of King, but definitely not the worst – it’s a fact that there are cringe worthy parts, but I can also see parts of King’s writing shining through the piece. I will give it a solid 7/10 (I am an unprofessional critic, really) considering the efforts and brave attempt to try something new like Greek myths, but it is definitely an enjoyable read personally.

 

Thoughts on portrayal of women in horror films

I’ve always had a hard time deciphering how, and why do the people seem to view horror flicks or novels with distaste – as if they were the cheaper, less appealing genre when compared to sappy romantic movies that are just repeating cliches. What irks me more is when many question my inclination to watch thriller films – it seems to be a ubiquitous practice to which people stereotype my being female equivalent to my hating on anything remotely scary (doesn’t this say much about how women ARE STILL PERCEIVED AS DAMSELS-IN-DISTRESS??)

But this post is not just about being aggravated every time someone asks what I like watching – it’s fundamentally about how female characters are portrayed in the many horror flicks I’ve watched. As a awfully devoted fan of horror flicks, I am ashamed to say that there was not one woman that came across as memorable – not because they had mediocre acting skills, but because the scripts are misogynistic. Simply put, women are characterized as promiscuous, easy girls who are more-or-less made into ‘sluts’ that sleep around – thus somehow the director believed it would be morally acceptable to make them rape victims of the antagonist, as well as the first batch of people who would be executed in brutal methodologies (trust me, you would not want to go into it); as if their sexuality is a sin, as if their virginity is the key for survival, as if they simply deserved death if they wanted casual sex. Surely it sounds despicable and pretty much getting a ‘ew, gross’ or a ‘that only happens in the past slasher films’ from you, but I assure you, from Jaws to any classics – it will not only feature females running around for flashing their hourglass figures, but also feature docile damsels in distress that pose as the ‘final girl’.

In the eyes of a debater and an avid public speaker for female rights – I find it revolting that only with virginity, naivety and presumably good looks, you are able to survive a ominous murderer’s chase – completely incredible in real life. As much as I adore courageous female characters like Sarah Carter in The Descent – many many more of the females in the horror film industry are rendered as sex objects and a projecting of the 1940’s stereotype of females being timid, shy creatures who need men to protect them from all evil.

Haplessly, it is not just the potential female victims who are given stereotyped personalities – but the rare few of female antagonists of the film as well. Many films that feature female murderers often compose the female’s intentions/motives purely for romantic interests: If we are quoting Cat People in its 1942/1982 version – Irena Dubrovna is just a poor woman whose husband decided to cheat on her, and to exert revenge – she threatens her husband’s lover rather than calling it quits. Furthermore, her actions amplifies the message that the wrongdoer is the lover rather than her husband, who cheated and became disloyal. Besides, in the industry, many of the villains in the flicks are predominantly male and exert power over females – in many occurrences, females are just abused by them to demonstrate the ‘strength’ of the villains.

Most of you would probably be deterred by now – not just due to the horrifying nature of thrillers itself, but for the obstinate and unaltered state of female portrayal. Needless to say, this doesn’t only apply to the horror genre – but to the entirety of the film industry. As much as I adore the tension, the drama and the enigma – it is time to bid goodbye to misogyny in thriller flicks.