Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Stories I Don’t Think About

I’ve always thought of free-writing as brandishing the scimitar of our subconscious. I love doing it because it brings out some hidden stories I can’t coax out readily. I tend to analyze and think and analyze some more even after a Eureka bulb of a story popped from my head. 

The following are some of the drabbles I’ve come up with without actually thinking about them. They are previous prompts presented at OneWord, the home of awesome prosemeisters. :p

FENCES.
They resumed the dance of blades under the ersatz guidance of the fluorescents, their hearts leaping at the alternating singsong of their foils and the ragged music of their breaths. Fencing is their favorite pas de deux, because in it, he is hers, and she is his–the world doesn’t own them for a few violent minutes. The coldness of their swords’ handles usually seep into their skins, but it goes unnoticed, overlapped by their desires to cleave each other’s shells of apathy. Their masks. Their perpetual facades. By the end of every duel, they leave each other soul-naked.

LIBERTY.
The way she stood at the ledge of the terrace, with a tiara of leaves seated on her hair, clutching a book in one hand and raising the other, reminded him of the Statue of Liberty. He admired the sight: the ropes of golden sunbeams snaked into her dark disheveled locks, and her eyes were laughing silently at the blue vastness of the firmament. Suddenly, she wasn’t a statue anymore. She was a goddess, and the epiphany made his heart skip a beat.

RUNWAY.
She is so unlike those stick-thin and posts-tall women that were molded especially for the spotlit catwalks: she is plain, hair is a jungle of ink-black hair, there is a tinge of sadness in her smile that never goes away, and there are little scars that people can and cannot see. But don’t let appearances deceive you: she is a struggling model in her own way. The world is her own runway, the heart on her sleeve is her best outfit, her confident strides across the rocky roads of her decisions are her own lovely struts. There may be no camera flashes or whirlwinds of confetti around her, but the only approval she wants come from herself, and from Him.

LIFT.
It was supposed to be cold inside the trembling, four-walled container. But it wasn’t. A few wisps of his bangs fluttered into the air when he blew at them, when he was trying to think of a way to banish the awkwardness. He stole another glance from the other occupant. Shiny hair, like a raven’s unfurled wing. An upturned nose. Curling eyelashes. How can she be so beautiful? His lips formed the word “hi” when suddenly, the button for the 8th floor blinked. He held in a sigh and walked out the lift. He turned around one last time. His heart almost stopped when she gave him a lipsticked smile before the metal doors slid to shield her from his desperate adoration.

ANTS.
The dots on the pavement—angry-red and night-black—connected with each other as they trace the sweet highway toward a pillow of bread and crystal sugar. In a gigantic, dangerous dome where we live in, noticing the intricacies of small life can sometimes open a new window that will remind us that Tiny Things make the world seem livelier.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bottled Book Scents?

Time for this week’s doodle! :)

Book Scents


BOOK SCENTS. If I could bottle all the scents of books—the new smell and the I-kept-this-book-for-years smell—I would. Book-smelling is one of my geeky quirks, and I consider the scent as my own version of marijuana. ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top 10 books (for Meganbarns)

It’s almost a week since I last checked my tumblr inbox. Along with all the new messages there, I found this fanmail, which contains a FAQ that I really had troubles answering, even before:
Hello,

I was wondering of you would be a post on your top ten books. The top ten books you couldn’t live without. One doesn’t have to limit themselves to just ten but I wondered which books you would put above the rest.

Thank you and cheers. —
meganbarns
This is kind of hard, you know? It's like picking up the most awesome folks among a circle of truly fabulous friends that are amazing in their own way. Anyway, the following are the first 10 that came to mind. I have a series of runner-ups, so stay tuned:
  1. Season of Mists (Sandman volume #4) by Neil Gaiman.

    Season of MistsMy life without The Sandman graphic novels would be like owning the whole The Beatles discography minus Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Seriously. I met my favorite writer of all time through these series of graphic novels starring the seven entities that are neither mortals nor gods—Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. It may not be the best, but Season of Mists is my favorite of all the volumes in the series. Here’s the blurb from GoodReads:

    "Lucifer has grown tired of being the lord of Hell. He kicks out the demons and the damned alike, closes up shop, and gives the key tp Hell to Morpheus. Beings from all the world's mythologies converge on the lord of Dream to seize this instrument of power.”



  2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

    Les MiserablesI was trying not to pick from the classics, but I just couldn’t help it. Here’s Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. As I said in one of the previous asks, I  see it as the masterpiece that sparked the ember of activism in me…and every time I reread it, I feel like I’m fanning the flames some more. This preface from the Gutenberg ebook edition pretty much sums up what I want to say:

    “So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.”


  3. Sabriel by Garth Nix.

    SabrielIt’s an important book for me because through it, Nix introduced me to the realms of paranormal young adult fiction and gave me a permanent morbid streak. I wish more YA books are like this book—the content is  more about character and plot development, not about who the girl will pick as her lifetime partner or stuff like that. Nix is a tease when it comes to romance. It’s almost nonexistent in the book, and you won’t see it unless you want it to exist.

    Here’s a blurb from GoodReads: “Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life'and comes face to face with her own hidden destiny. . .”


  4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. AYN

    Be a filter, not a sponge. They say you either really love or really hate this book, but I landed in the gray area. While I did not subscribe to everything that Rand said in this book, I got to admit I learned a lot from it.  For a long while it even became one of my favorite novels.

    Blurb from GoodReads: “On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.”
  5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

    TheBookThiefOne of the best books I’ve read so far. Since Neil Gaiman’s quirky Goth girl interpretation, I’ve never been this fond of a personification of Death.

    Blurb from GoodReads: “It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . .Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”

  6. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano.
    Solitude
    I don’t normally like soulmate stories, but this one is such a bittersweet, exquisitely told tale of two people that can’t seem to connect, even if they know they’re the only ones who can complete each other.

    Blurb from GoodReads: “A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one-it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.

    But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. Like Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, this is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and the weight of childhood experience that is set to become a universal classic.”


  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Do I really need to explain this? I wouldn’t be the bookworm that I am today if I hadn’t come across this book. 

    HG
    Blurb from Goodreads: “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”



  8.  1984 by George Orwell. Ever since I read this, I1984’ve always dreaded the possibility of an Orwellian future. I mean if you think about it, it really can happen! The internet Blackout Revolution brought about by SOPA and PIPA were chillingly reminiscent of the book’s theme.

    Blurb from GoodReads: “Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.”

  9.  Paper Towns by John Green. This has a personal reason, but even if it PaperTownshasn’t, I think I still my bookworm heart wouldn’t be complete if I hadn’t read this book. It’s like an updated Looking for Alaska.

    Blurb from GoodReads: “When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night - dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows her. Margo's always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she's always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they're for Q. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.”

  10.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. My first ever Murakami book, which started my love affair with his other novels. ‘Nuff said.WUBC
    “Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.  In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.  Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon. 3 books in one volume: The Thieving Magpie, Bird as Prophet, The Birdcatcher. This translation by Jay Rubin is in collaboration with the author.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shades of Gray: GW Ramblings

When I was a kid, I always root for the good guys in TV shows and storybooks. Who doesn’t? Distinguishing white from black, siding with the goodies and going against the baddies…it’s one of the few lessons the earliest media we’ve been exposed to and our parents fed us. So when I watched Gundam Wing for the first time, I was intrigued.

The Real Enemy

With all the promo materials I’ve seen, I readily tagged the five pilots and Relena as the heroes before I even watched the series. But when I sat down for a GW marathon, I found myself asking—just like how some of the characters found themselves asking—who are the real enemies? Zechs Merquise? Treize Khushrenada? The Alliance? The Romafeller Foundation? White Fang? And who exactly are the good guys? The Japanese boy, who always opts to do the supposedly “right” thing (in consonance with his missions) instead of doing the obviously “kind” thing? The braided one, who believes he’s some kind of a god of death? The green-eyed soldier, who follows the example of guys who think life is cheap? The blond kid, who blasted a whole colony into smithereens? The Chinese guy, who once commented something to the effect that women’s place is right next to bleeding hearts?

For me, the lack of central antagonist (or the cookie-cutter goody heroes) is one of the beautiful intricacies of Gundam Wing. No one’s pure black or pure white: everyone is made up of several shades of gray. The personality of each character is labyrinthine, and trying to find the easiest way out of it requires a lot of work and thinking. That’s why I love how the fans are drawing their own maps of the characters’ identities through analyses and fan fiction. Actually, just watching the show then trying to figure out the team you’re going to cheer for already explains how you view the characters! It’s only expected that the five pilots would get lots of love, but even the folks who would normally be placed at the ‘evilest’ end in a clichéd story’s good guy-bad guy scale also get sizable love-chunks from the fandom.

I love Gundam Wing up to now because it is the first fictional work that taught me to appreciate the characters because they’re more like humans—complex, flawed, a mixture of good and bad, capable of growth—instead of because they’re obviously portrayed as the good protagonists. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why We Broke Up (Celebrity Edition)

I posted this on my tumblr a week ago. I found these on the back of my copy of Why We Broke Up, the book that I’ve been wanting to read ever since I laid my eyes on it. Now that I’m done with The God of Small Things, I think I can begin reading it now.

Anyhoo, here are some contemporary authors talking about their teenage heartbreaks. I found most of them touching and funny! There’s even one that sounds like Jace Wayland (guess who!) I wish there’s a whole compilation of these quotes. :)
__

“When my heart was broken and I was fifteen, I listened to Lou Reed’s Berlin over and over and walked around a lot in the rain, while my friends followed me looking worried and imploring me not to do anything stupid. Well, stupider than walking in the rain, anyway.”
- Neil Gaiman
__

“The boy I loved didn’t know I existed. Then again, he was obsessed with Camus, so he didn’t know if any of us existed.”
-David Levithan
__

“When Patti Fox broke up with me, I typed her name over a thousand times on my manual Olivetti until the entire page was beaten into a stiff sheet of black ink.”
-Jack Gantos
__

“The first boy I fell in love with didn’t know I loved him, but he managed to break my heart anyway.”
-Holly Black
__

“Of course I had my heart broken as a teen. I was desperately in love with myself. Then I found out that I was completely shallow. I haven’t spoken to myself since.”
-M.T. Anderson
__

“I was heartbroken when my boyfriend announced he was moving to Chicago without me. But, oh yeah, I could keep his guitar amp. Thanks.”
-Sarah Shepard
__

“My heart was broken the spring of my senior year in high school. We broke up in a park outside of town, and as I drove him home, he read me what he’d written in my yearbook. The line that really made me sob? ‘You will always be my Princess Bride.’ Sniff.”
-Carolyn Mackler
__

“We broke up because I was not a boy.”
-Lisa Brown
__

“I thought dating her was just fine. Pleasant. You know what I mean? When she said she didn’t want to go out with me anymore my friends gathered around me. They shook their heads and frowned. They patted my back. ‘To bad,’ they said and ‘you’ll be okay.’ I wasn’t sure how they wanted me to act so I tried stomping around and punching walls. I tried to feel bad. I really did. But it didn’t really make any sense to keep up the act. Then I found the meaning of relationships when you’re a teen. It’s a wonderful country music tune called: I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling.”
-Kevin O’Malley
__

“After my first lesbian break up, my ex left a series of ‘I hate you’ parting gifts on my porch. Including a cassette tape of the Radiohead song ‘Creep.’ Looped. Back to back. Side A and B. Best. Mix tape. Ever.”
-Mariko Tamaki
__

“We broke up because I kept forgetting that I had a fake British accent.”
-Adele Griffin
__

“I got dumped on my nineteenth birthday. The next day a car hit me. The impact threw me ten feet. My jeans were shredded so badly that my college roommate hung them on our dorm room wall as a conversation piece. I spent the next week recovering in bed, listening to The Smiths and feeling sorry for myself. It took about a decade, but eventually I understood that young love is always a comedy.”
-Matthew Quick

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Un-Bookwormism and Dorkology Update

And here’s another update about books and the current blahs of a hobbit-sized human being’s quite nondescript life.

box

I guess a cleanup day is very much like a serendipity day or an accidental treasure hunt day (if such things exists). All the dust bunnies that sent me sneezing proved to be just a small prize for finding a few of my long lost CDs! I love every album. My attitude in owning books is like my attitude in owning music. I’m completely okay with having the electronic versions/downloads, but holding the actual thing in your hand and witnessing it produce their magic seem more…intimate. I don’t know, if you’ll ask me for real, I’ll just say the feeling’s ineffable. A book’s smooth cover or a CD’s smooth side smudged for the first time with your fingerprints is only one of the little wonderful things their virtual counterparts can’t give you. ;) /ramblings

highschool

Oh, and I didn’t just chance upon my CDs—I found my high school yearbook as well! Imagine what I felt when I reread our Class Prophecy, which was penned by a fifteen-year-old joke of a writer called Me.  Haha! If I could go back in time, I’d smack the younger me for being so giddy when writing a piece that anyone in our batch can read and reread whenever they want. Perhaps I’ll humiliate myself some time and post a portion here. But right now, I’ll just give you a photo of one of my writing wins! Yay. Hey, I’m grabbing the opportunity here to be narcissistic. Next time, I’ll laugh with the world when seeing my hilarious pen-warrior mishaps. :p

unlockyourcreativity

FYI, I didn’t take the photo above. It’s from Austin Kleon himself, and I got it via his twitter. I wish I can have this book and Newspaper Blackout Poetry one. Unfortunately, none of the biggest bookstores in the country carry a single copy of either awesomeness. *sniffs*

Anyway, book (un)events in Airiz’s life:
  • I’m still stuck with The God of Small Things.
  • I saw a copy of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in NBS Tutuban! Why are the online contacts saying the book’s out of stock? I’ll purchase it the next time I go there. There’s heaps of them on the display table.
  • I’m still excited to read Why We Broke Up, but *see first bullet*

Gundam Wing

I just finished downloading the remastered edition of GW, and I’m excited to have a marathon soon! Wooot! But right now, I’m reading some sidestory mangas. ;)

__

I promise to post things that make more sense than this. Have a good day! :)

My Writing Inspiration (from FFN)

Can you be a fangirl of a fangirl?

Of course. I can attest to that.

It’s through the Gundam Wing fandom that I came to know Isis CW, one of my favorite fanfiction writers right now. Her fanfic-novels are perhaps the best that I’ve read at the Pit (which is still a melting pot of rotten, yaoi-infested fangirl goo). When browsing multi-chaptered tales at FFN started to prove to be some kind of self-flagellation for my aching brain, I refrained from visiting itexcept when Isis updates Revelations, the third in her trilogy of amazing works. The 4xD pairing doesn’t get a lot of love from the GW fanbase, but Isis being one of the few shippers is enough for me!

isiss
She's the reason why the image of the Egyptian goddess doesn't readily come to mind
\when someone mentions the name Isis to me.

The following’s written on her profile page at FFN. From this alone, you’ll know why I look up to her so much. :)
Well, if you're going to read this, you must be mildly interested in the woman behind the stories. So here is a little of me, and I would love to know a little of you. 
-My attitude on writing has always been three-fold. Any fictional work you read should be able to take you away from reality one paragraph at a time. You should be able to have an emotional response to the story or characters completely regardless of whether you have known that feeling before or not. And, it should be good for you. If that’s by teaching you something, making you think, or just taking you away from other situations in life that trouble you. 
The first two items I can strive for, the third is primarily up to you, the reader. But what they can do is let you be another person, a character, as you hear their thoughts and say their words. They can make you laugh, tug your heart, and give you a little vacation.
And I get to do that for you guys. I don’t know your stories, the things each of you face in life, unless you’re willing to write and tell me. But for the few minutes you sit in front of the screen and read these chapters… you’re mine. And I promise to be gentle and protect you while you’re with me. No one who reads my works is a stranger to me, because you all know me more intimately than most people I am around every day. 
-Outlook on FanFiction: Where do I begin? My first love is Character! Give me a character I can fall in love with, and I'm yours! I'm that way with fiction, TV, movies, anything. My own fiction tends to be rather boring from the on-set, but I love just 'revealing' the characters. The more complex, the harder I work. That's why I LOVE Gundam Wing. 
Plot is also a wonderful selling point to me. Yes, have to have it, no matter how annoying it is to try to develop. Trust me, I know. But like I said, I, personally, will sit through a bad plot if the character is so good I drool over my keyboard :) 
Spell check and grammar issues. I will personally admit that I have the same trouble everyone does with this. (Heavens, "For Argument’s Sake" is so full of it I'm almost disgraced by it now) Time and care, time and care; that's all I can say. That and, if possible, find a wonderful set of proofreaders to give you a fresh set of eyes. And please, correct me when I screw something up. I can't grow without true, honest opinions! 
Anyhoo, enough about me. You came for the fics, not the author. That is the price we pay, is it not? So please enjoy, and review if you think I'm worth it. Please feel free to email me too, any questions, comments, rants, anything at all. And God bless you! ;)
I adapted this personal writing attitude...and if you're a budding writer, I think you should, too. I enjoyed the art of fiction-writing more when I started keeping this in mind. :)

(image source)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bookstore Hangout Pseudo-Cards :)

Here’s the Photoshop dabbler  again presenting you some mediocre art-junk! Hah.

I was cleaning my desktop this morning when I happened upon some snapshots taken eons ago, during a bookstore hangout with my friends. I thought the photos suffered a premature demise along with my other files, when the laptop had to be reformatted and I forgot to transfer them to my hard drive. Turned out there’s some lucky survivors! :p

Anyway, I incorporated some reading-related quotes with the photos. Check them out: 

elai
~
row
~
debbie
~
Riz Row
~

I wanted them to look like the Hallmark cards that are usually found on some stands in 7-Eleven, but looking at the results made me think I should just stick with traditional art. Haha! This is me with too much time on my hands. ;)

Toodles!

On Writing Your Characters

undressyourcharacters

Remember that you’re the God of your world when you’re writing a story. That’s why when you’re writing your characters, you should be creating real people, not just cardboard cutouts to stand in an imagined world. The characters should not merely be tools that will push the plot forward, or one-dimensional caricatures to serve as avatars for your idiosyncrasies. Make them live. Make them breathe.

You must know each character inside out. You should see him naked—literally and metaphorically. Undress him. Learn all the facts about him, from his real full name to the last toy he ever had as a kid. Know all his blemishes and flaws, his most embarrassing memories, his worst fears. Discover his dreams and aspirations, his regrets and frustrations; find out what makes him flinch and what makes him smile despite himself. Feel him under your hands, run your fingers over his scars and wounds, those little histories scribbled on his skin. Learn what his weaknesses are. Prod the skeletons he’s keeping in the built-in closet of his personality. And in the end…give him the respect he deserves.

You ripped his clothes—for your own benefit—and you respect him? Yes. It may seem so technical when you do it with the eyes of a scientist studying a specimen, but it’s much better when you do it with sincere feelings. You must learn to “love” the character. You see his imperfections and accept them as a unique part of his personality. Perhaps it’s parental love (characters are your children!), or “friendly” love (characters are your friends!). What’s important here is that you view the character as someone close to you, and it shouldn’t matter if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.

Keep in mind that, like real human beings, they’re akin to icebergs too. What’s on the surface is just 10% of the whole thing. Keep the water level up, and let your readers find the 90% all by themselves. The legwork should be theirs, but all their efforts would be dependent on your writing. Let your character’s speeches, thought processes, and actions unfold more about himself. And slowly, as the story charges on, let your readers undress your character, too. :)

(cross-posted from my tumblr)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bookwormism and Dorkology Update

Belated Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope you expressed your love for all the people you care for, and hope that those who are boyfriend-less, girlfriend-less, or just don't-know-where-they're-standing didn't let their current statuses prevent them from being happy (I didn't). Sometimes I wish we don't need any hallmark holiday anymore that will remind us to wear our hearts on our sleeves or show kindness to others. Why can't every day be heart's day? ;)

Anyway, here's another update about books and the current blahs of my quite nondescript life.

Why We Broke Up

Starting with the fourteenth! You know there’s something “wrong” with your friends if they got you a novel about breakup on Valentine’s Day. But for me, of course, it’s a good kind of wrong! :p I’ve been eyeing Daniel Sandler’s Why We Broke Up for a while now. The dudettes want to see a review from me soon, but I can’t read it yet; I still have to finish Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and a couple others I lined up after it (Steampunk, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and Underground). But then again, I’m a fickle little creature…I may hoist WWBU up my reading list if I feel like it. ;)

The book looks  amazing, with its pages glossy and Maira Kalman's artwork stunning. I don’t think it will be able to accompany me during my train and jeepney rides, though. It's too big and heavy…

Not that it’s super big a deal. :p

sketchbook journal

In other news, I started drawing on my sketchbook journal last night! My first entry is not particularly cheerful. When insomnia decides to visit me at night—right after I shut down the now overused laptop—this little ghost drifts from the middle of nowhere and haunts me till the wee small hours of the morning. Just sometimes, though. On good days, Mr. Pillows and Sheets will transport me straight to Dreamland once I hit them.

I don’t plan to spill everything online, but I’ll still feature at least one doodle from my journal every week. :)

Grandaunt

As for other RL stuff, when I’m not out doing "sidelines" or tutoring in front of the computer, I’m babysitting my grandniece Fiona. She’ll be four months old on the 18th and she’s already eating Cerelac! :) She grows so fast. The last time I posted about her here, she’s nothing but a tiny, pink blob of flesh that I can swaddle with both my palms. Now, I often need to sit down after ten minutes of carrying her in my arms.

I realized babysitting is no mean feat, but to be honest, I’m enjoying every minute of it. There’s something about being able to coax out a peal of giggles from an infant, you know? Sometimes, it also brings out a little inventor in me, making me pull out tunes and lullaby lyrics from god-knows-where and choreograph a small dance when I’m rocking the babe to sleep. :)

JungleHair

As for stupidities…look at that jungle of hair! I decided to have it curled after a crazy salon experiment mishap one night. Turns out I jumped from the frying fan into the fire, eh? I don’t like it. I prefer my straight hair before. I’m just waiting for the chemical to wear off—it will be the death of my poor locks if I subject them to rebonding or any kind of torture soon. Right now, I’m just bunching them up in a bun on the top of my head.

Yep. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A World Without Books?


This video is heartrending in its own way. I just can’t specify all the books I’d miss if I were blind, and thinking about my life without them is like imagining myself living in a world where oxygen is close to non-existent. This is no exaggeration. I’ve spent a majority of my life in the company of books, and they helped in paving the yellow brick road toward my dreams and goals. :’)

Anyway, I think the dilemma above could easily be solved. Blind people can read nowadays! There’s braille, screen readers, audiobooks, etc. They wouldn’t miss out on the colorful realm of literature that we—readers with the gift of sight—are enjoying right now just because they can’t see the inked letters on the pages. The reading experience is entirely different, but like what I always say, it’s not how you read…it’s that you read.

Monday, February 13, 2012

ZONE Magazine (The Revolt Issue)

Since I know there are a few people here that may be interested—ZONE magazine’s third issue is out now!

RevoltPauline Prieto doesn’t give a damn (Photo by Jerick Sanchez)

Also known as the “Revolt” issue, this month’s ZONE revolves around the themes of change and zeroes in on being a “mixed media” release. Basically, it combines the concepts of the first and the second issues. Featured fashion models and artists are Pauline Prieto, Kneil Melicano, Vincent Quilop, Beth Hoeckel, Ulrike Theusner, and many more! :)

I definitely enjoyed penning the articles for Miss Prieto, Mr. Melicano, and Mr. Dex Fernandez. I know that writing things about them is not necessarily like meeting them, but with our indirect conversations—my researches and questions, the power of the info superhighway that connects us, their answers—it’s like they’ve let me glimpsed a part of them to me, before even our readers had the chance to see them. I’m particularly drawn to Mr. Melicano’s answers. :) Here’s my favorite bit about our interview:
Q: "Starving artist” is an old stereotype to imply there is not much money or bright future in the field of arts. In the course of your career, have you ever experienced being a ‘starved’ artist? What advice can you give to people who want to pursue a career in the arts but are discouraged that there is not enough money the profession produces? 
A: It's absurdity! In this age of time, if you're not getting something out of your talent, you must be doing it wrong. There should be a good balance. One cannot live on dream alone or dance for peanuts.
Being a budding illustrator myself, his words of wisdom gave me some queer form of encouragement. You can find the whole interview on pages 128-129. Some of his illustrations were featured too, and they’re amazing. Remember that he’s the guy behind Red.

KM

My article for Miss Prieto, Square Peg in a Round Hole, is on page  113. She is photographed by ZONE’S Creative Director Jerick Sanchez.

PP

The Man Behind the Kaleidoscopic Paints and Collages, my write-up for/interview with Dex Fernandez, is on page 133 and 137. His art is unconventional and colorfully controversial, check them out too!

DEx

My book reviews for Alexie Sherman’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar were published, too. You can find them on pages 205-207.

I would want to say I’m looking forward to working more in this magazine as the Managing Editor, but recent developments may intervene with my stint. I’ll blather about it in a separate post. :)

PS: Like our official page at Facebook!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Demise (Poem)

“Why is the sky blue?” every child wants to ask.
And he usually responds, “The angels play a game of tag in heaven,
and one little cherub trips on a can of blue paint,
spreading it across the pallid marble floor of the sky.”
His heart, though, cannot lie: it was her love that dyes everything in
its full vibrant glory—she was the Sun of his wonderland,
seated on a throne of clouds
like the Queen that she was.

When she finally took her eternal slumber,
when she pillowed her head on the soft earth
six feet beneath the dancing fingers of grasses
and thousands of miles away from the canopy of stars,
everything transfigured from a multicolor series of snapshots
into an eerie negative filmstrip of a world he never dreamed to live in.
It was the glimpse of a purgatory, a reality
he doesn’t want to stay in, even for a millisecond.

He missed her.
He missed her kisses that tinted his mind a sweet, lovely plum,
reminiscent of how the sunup throws a cloak of colour upon the sky
after the last smudge of the night thawed in the light.
He missed her embrace that put creases in the sunbeams
that fall upon the sheets. He missed her laugh
that sweetened the blandness of that lingering feeling
when the tail end of a good dream dissolves into thin air.

He missed her I-love-you-like-I-love-the-sky-at-sunset caress.
He missed her I’m-sorry-I-won’t-hurt-you-again embrace.
He missed her I-missed-you-and-I-want-to-hit-you-for-going-away-
but-I’ll-just-do-this kiss.
He missed her You-are-the-most-amazing-thing-that-happened-in-my-life hug.
He missed her I-do touch.
He missed her Please-love-someone-again-after-I’m-gone grip,
before she slept forever.
He missed her, he missed her, he missed her.

Thankful for the sting, thankful for the venom of false waiting,
he let the blade’s lips graze the soft, beating vein beneath his translucence.
In fairytales, he believed then;
to lie with his Princess, to sleep beside his Sun,
and to let the ghosts of their hearts merge again.
And they lived—beyond death—happily ever after.




©Airiz Casta 2011

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Bookworm Valentine

Valentine’s Day is approaching! As a gift for you guys, here are some geeky hand-drawn cards, inspired by the awesome doodles of elledoubleyou and butthorn. Feel free to print these out and give them to your loved ones if you want! ;) It will surely make a happy, Cupid-esque single this February 14. Haha!

Hunger Games     Game of Thrones
The first one features Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark from Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games (whoops! Looks like Cupid managed to slip one of his arrows in your quiver, Kat!). The second features Daenerys Targaryen & Khal Drogo from George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. I originally planned to draw Cersei and Jaime, but I guess the Khaleesi’s love life is less…poisonous. If you know what I mean.

Love Will Tear Us Apart     Sabriel
Of course we’ll have a gay couple! The card on the left features Jack & Grayson from Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love Will Tear Us Apart (anthologized in Zombies vs. Unicorns and Wilde Stories 2011). Grayson’s drooling because Jack still smells like a happy meal to him. :p The card on the right features Touchstone & Sabriel from my ever-favorite fantasy YA series, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Trilogy.

Uglies
You might have noticed already that I only doodled my literary ships (yeah, I roll like that). I root for Zane and Tally from Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, but here I drew our heroine with David. Their pairing strongly represents one of the series’ main themes, in my opinion.

I have a lesbian valentine card too, but a friend took it away before I had the chance to scan it. It features two girls from Malinda Lo’s Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. I drew Kaisa and Aisling with their backs to the viewers, looking up at a small clock that reads 12:01. The caption says, “I’ll love you even after midnight.”
Maybe I’ll just post it later, when I feel not-so-lazy to doodle again. LOL

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! :)

Review: May Day Eve and Other Stories

Title: May Day Eve and Other Stories
Author: Nick Joaquin
Genre: Magic Realism, Romance, Historical Fiction (Filipino lit)
My Rating: ★★★★


Nick Joaquin

“Pareng Nick” is a frequent companion of mine when I was in high school. I remembered burying my nose in a dog-eared copy of Manila, My Manila and staying in the library after classes just to search for his anthologies. It’s been ages since I last sat down and binge on some of his works, so the *roundhouse kick* of nostalgia that greeted me at the bookstore when I saw May Day Eve and Other Stories is only expected. Needless to say, I relented to the sudden irresistible urge to pick it up. I finished reading half the book in the bookstore, but I bought it (and another Joaquin anthology) anyway. I suddenly felt like my shelf would be incomplete without it.

May Day Eve is still my favorite story. Despite having read it  for perhaps the hundredth time, it still doesn’t fail to make me tremble from the knee-buckling blow of regrets in life (and love) that the characters experienced. Joaquin’s magic mainly lies in the subtle unfolding of events, in a gentle whisper of epiphany that crescendoes into a howl of tragedy by the end.  The story revolves around the European-educated Badoy Montiya and the feisty, liberated  Agueda as they let one superstitious  moment  in May Day Eve be the ‘driver’ of their lives, leading into a disintegrating marriage. Agueda is my kind of female protagonist, for the most obvious of reasons: she’s the readers’ little window to Joaquin’s feministic streak that is more pronounced in his other story The Summer Solstice. Great realizations often come when it’s too late; the bitter-sweetness of this lesson lasts in the final moments of the story, wherein the characters took in that they did love each other after all, even if subconsciously.

The other stories are just as enchanting. Three Generations can be considered a little portrait of a family in a patriarchal society, focusing on the three men of each step of generation. Doña Jeronima reads like a classic Filipino legend about love, repentance, forgiveness, and piety. The Legend of the Dying Wanton teems with harrowing scenes of death as well as the beautiful images of freeing yourself…from yourself. Guardia de Honor is a mystifying tale  about love, destiny, and chances. I just love how in each story, there is one character that represents rebellion in his/her own way.

Five stars for an amazing read.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

GW Meta: My Thoughts on Catherine Bloom and Dorothy Catalonia (& Select Fandom Responses)

In which I blather about how these two girls prove that, unless you’re some guy with an eerie kind of ESP called Space Heart, your level of I-feel-you-ness with someone is never going to be precise.

THE ESSAY

Comparative analyses between Catherine Bloom and Dorothy Catalonia are seldom because (1) they never interacted in the show, (2) it’s more fun to compare Dorothy to Relena, and (3) what’s the point? Venn-diagramming their personalities is just a waste of time, because everybody seems to know that nothing will meet in the center.

I was originally typing up a post about how Catherine is more than just a chipper, overprotective knife-thrower (it’s for fuckyeahcatherinebloom, a blog I started a week ago), but halfway through I couldn’t stop thinking about Dorothy. I stumbled upon an interesting similarity between them that is only a similarity if we talk about their seemingly striking difference: their attitudes toward war.

The pilots were not the only ones exposed to death at an early age. These girls also lost their loved ones to war when they’re still young. Cathy was about five when her parents got killed in an air raid, and Dorothy was 12 or 13 when former OZ General Chilias Catalonia, her father, died (I believe it’s in AC 193, when Treize officially took over OZ). The way they responded to these events is the interesting part. We’ve seen what they’re like in the show, and the common impressions among viewers consist of Cathy being a mother stereotype and Dorothy being as crazy as a peach-orchard boar. If only we try to zero in on the meager information about their semi-identical pasts, it’s easy to notice how they can prove us that hate and hurt are like fingerprints—that no two people feel exactly the same way about the same thing.

Cathy’s “hatred” is straighter and clearer. After surviving the attack that killed her parents and separated her from her little brother Triton/Trowa, she outwardly expresses how much she despises warfare. She seems to have sworn to herself that once she finds people she can consider her second family, she will do all her best not to lose them again.

catt

I think the fandom should refrain from thinking that the creators only included Catherine on the show just to be a motherly female counterpart for Trowa. Or a potential key to pilot 03’s enigmatic past. She’s more than that. Just because she’s the only major GW gal that doesn’t engage in any kind of political or physical combat doesn’t mean she’s not fighting her own war! Call it over-analysis if you want, but I think the creators put her there to make us see that even civilians have their own battles too—and what’s more dangerous to fight than a war you’re waging inside your head and heart? She’s a symbol that says, “we’re all involved; we’re all victims.” In my mind, Catherine tries to survive being the survivor. This is not emphasized, but think about it. The legwork is left to us after we’ve glimpsed her past in a handful of panels in Trowa’s Episode Zero. In the series, we’ve witnessed how she reacts when a loved one’s in peril. The bigger part of her life happened off-screen, but it doesn’t take so much to bridge the gap.

There’s a big possibility that the ghost of trauma haunts her. But instead of letting herself be crushed under its weight, she fights it. She tries to exorcise it by rebuilding and protecting what has been previously destroyed in her life.

Dorothy’s “hatred” is more twisted and complicated. Up to now, many GW fans still misunderstand her “love” for warfare. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: the AC era teems with all kinds of politicians, soldiers, and pacifists, but if I were to choose a favorite character that genuinely wishes to wipe all kinds of war, I’m going to pick Dorothy. And then I hear you: “Are you kidding? That batsh*t crazy girl who pirouettes and shouts at the fighter planes to hurry up and start a war like she’s in some kind of a warped After Colony Disney movie—she wants peace?” Well, YES. DESPERATELY SO.

“You can’t do away with wars by just taking weapons away from the people,” she reasons. “You first have to change the hearts of all mankind.”

Dorothy graphic

Her unconventional albeit spine-tingling suggestion is an evolved version of Treize’s philosophy: to stage a war so gruesome, so horrible, that after everyone witnesses it, they would never want to have wars ever again.  For her, subscribing to utopian fantasies is not the best course of action. So she opts to take the extreme path. She opts for bloodshed. She opts for death.

It’s implied that her father’s untimely demise contributed a lot to this belief. I have no inkling as to how much she loves him, but I can guess. After all, only an extreme amount of love can trigger an extreme amount of hate. She must have been so pained by his death and was shocked to find the world still continuing to make a chaotic inferno of itself, despite all the fatalities and casualties that heap up every day. She must have thought, “Why do you keep on doing this? You’ve seen it, you’ve known how it felt! Isn’t this enough? Why are you acting as if you don’t know how it hurts? Oh…maybe you don’t. Well, let me show you. Or better yet, let you show you.”

This is why I believe Catherine is much stronger than her when dealing with grief. The whole thing’s quite similar to the usual Relena-Quatre analogy. Cathy’s response is of true strength, of rising up from the rubble, like Relena’s when her father died (although the latter’s is initially tinged with revenge). Dorothy’s is more akin to Quatre’s after Mr. Winner’s death, although his is overly vindictive (Pre-ZERO: “I’ll never forget this, and I’ll make sure you people don’t forget this day, either.” During ZERO: “What the colony really needs is a war!”). So if you’re still baffled why Quatre thinks she’s kinder than him, remember her confession at the end that makes her cry—“If I don’t [help to change mankind’s hearts by staging the worst war], humanity will perish just like my father!” Twisted? Perhaps, but Quatre recognizes no trace of an eye-for-an-eye mentality there. In her own distorted way, Dorothy is still trying her best to salvage humanity.

In a nutshell, Dorothy wants to end wars by using them as a lesson for the most intelligent ‘animals’ that refuse to learn—human beings. She believes this is the only possible way to strip the people of their drive to fight each other. She wants the worst war to happen because the small ones won’t be enough to teach mankind. She can’t do it single-handedly, so she switches sides, manipulates, and provokes people. A warped kind of love and desperation fuel her, and in truth, she’s just as lost as her namesake in L. Frank Baum’s storybooks. I love Quatre’s little speech, but I think what Dorothy needed to hear are just the few words Trowa tells her in the end: “Maybe what you are attempting is correct, but it still won’t bring true peace.” Trowa is referring to the overall space mishap that’s happened during that time, but it coincides with what she’s wanting all along.

Catherine fights. Dorothy wishes for peace. This is why I love Gundam Wing, you know? The characters are layered; there’s more to them than meets the eye. It’s been a long while since I last watched the show as a whole, but I’ll definitely sit down one night for a non-stop GW marathon. I know I’ll discover something new in every rewatch, especially now that I’m older. ;p


THE RESPONSES

CathandDots

The reason I wrote this essay is mainly because I know other fans will throw in their two cents, especially that most of them are older and  have been invested in the fandom longer than I have. I'll learn more. The following are two of the responses from the Gundam Wing Tumblr community, which I thought of sharing here. You can find more by accessing my original post here. Just scroll down and click on their answers. ;)

Response 1 by Octavia-Agusta:
Preach. However, saying that “Catherine is much stronger than [Dorothy] when dealing with grief” rubs me the wrong way. This is mainly because I see them as dealing with their grief in their own ways. I don’t think handling a certain situation a particular way means you are stronger than this person when it comes to this or that. It means you are handling it in a way (and perhaps the only way) you know how.
Octavia is right. But that’s my point all along! Grief and pain are like fingerprints, as I’ve mentioned in the opening paragraphs. I only said Cath is stronger because her response to grief is more on moving on, on rebuilding, than dwelling in the past. Hers is more positive. There’s so much going on with Dorothy’s grief, and it’s hard to tell because she wears—and switches—masks all the time. But what’s clear here is that Dorothy’s own version of trauma swerves off the usual path…and it’s not really positive, either. That’s why I compared her grief to Quatre’s. Look what it did to him.

My bad, if anyone else misunderstands what I meant to say.

Response 2 by Dorothy-Catalonia (roleplayer):
OOC: More amazing stuff from CinderellaInCombatBoots! A great insight into two often misrepresented characters. 
Also raises a lot for me to think about. I really do need to commit to rewatching the series, and possibly liveblogging so I can keep notes for myself. 
Whenever I see someone say, “Dorothy desperately wants peace,” it troubles me. I always sense the implication that she’s just not so bad, that really she’s altruistic, like Treize. I don’t see that in her. She has too much passion for battle, I can’t believe that everything she ever said about the beauty of conflict was for show. She’s genuinely proud of her father and grandfather and the way they died. I don’t think that’s because she sees them as sacrifices to The Ultimate Cause (ending all wars forever). She admires humanity’s resiliency and determination, and she admires their willingness to see their causes through, even unto death. 
Dorothy may want peace, but she doesn’t want a Utopian world of sunshine and daisies, either. It would bore her, for one. 
As for Catherine, I never saw her as a mother-figure. I reserve that spot for Sally, who offers acceptance, kindness and guidance, but allows her young heroes to still run free and make their own mistakes. I think one reason for this is that I always saw Sally as more mature than Catherine, who is very impetuous. Cinderella’s right, people need to stop writing her off. Catherine IS the civilian survivor, and we mustn’t overlook her.
I’m not following either of the GW-RP tumblelogs, but  I think this poster would be an amazing role-player for Dorothy: she’s got a good grasp of her character.  Most of the time, Dorothy is indeed like a scientist that loves to watch gerbils as she sets up little changes in their environment—but not without forgetting she is one of the gerbils, too. More layers! I believe Dorothy admires human’s more animalistic nature, which explains her belief that kindness is detrimental to survival. Ironically, for someone who loves to see the ‘beast’ in all humans, she is so…human. Flawed, emotional,  and intricate, with the architecture of her psyche that is so hard to figure out.

She may not have an altruistic streak, but I don’t think she’s selfish, either. Isn’t boredom such a little thing to sacrifice if it means not having war victims anymore? If it means there won’t be any bereft twelve-year-old Dorothys anymore?  Anyway, I believe she can always celebrate the greatness of humans striving for survival through something else, not only through wars—even if it doesn’t bring her the same excitement. She does love the idea of heroes dying in battle (her father and grandfather included); she even mentions once that she wants to die like them too.

I may be reading too much into her, but I think she believes the peace that awaits them will be more beautiful and glorious if it’s hard-won. If it leaves a colorful history in its wake, and especially if she’s involved in achieving it.

Still, I think her grief contributes to her being a character that is not all black, not all white, but all different shades of gray. I admit, I’m not really engrossed with her character until the moments aboard Battleship Libra (Relena is my favorite until that episode). I just can’t get over what she said about not wanting the world to vanish like her father. It’s that one-liner, and the tears that punctuate it, that opens a crack in her personality where an old Dorothy can be glimpsed. Sadly, we weren’t able to pry further into this because the show ended an episode later.

But at the end we see the lesson she’s learned, when she’s visiting Treize’s grave for the last time: “I’m tired of living in the past.” At that point, she won’t let the ghost of her yesterday’s grief affect her today.

why am I so talkative in this fandom lately? I should just go back to making graphics and gifs lol

Monday, February 6, 2012

Puncturing My Thought Balloon: David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

TheGirlwiththeDragonTattoo

What I planned to be a book vs. film post about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo turned out to be an unintelligible mess of hyperfangirlism (it was an eyesore to the regular blog-hoppers, I tell you), so I had to go over it again and omit the unnecessary keysmashery of love. :p I’m no film critic, but here’s what I thought of David Fincher’s take on the first installment of the Millenium Trilogy:

❏ The opening sequence. First things first! Fincher wowed me with the opening credits. I’ve seen it a couple of nights ago via Facebook, but it didn’t diminish my awe upon seeing it on the big screen. I heard it was supposed to be Lisbeth’s dream, and what else could be the best way to know more about a mystery-on-two-legs but to tap into her subconscious? It’s amazing. There are a keyboard and some wires, a lit matchstick, and  shape-shifting gasoline flowing from the remains of a wrecked car(?).

OC

I simply love the way the gasoline  coagulates into different shapes that depict opposing ideas. There’s  a kissing couple pulling away from each other like some jellified Siamese twins, and there’s also a masculine hand throwing hard blows at the face of a woman until it shatters into smaller drops. There’s a flower blossoming delicately while a  cluster of cruel hands covers the face of a screaming girl (which to me looked like the petals of a monstrous flower closing around an unlucky prey).

Passion and rage, innocence and corruption…seriously, everything about this is violently beautiful. I think it effectively communicates not only the personality of the title character but also the nature of the movie itself. Initially I thought it has more to do with The Girl Who Played With Fire, with Lisbeth wanting to drench her male captor with gasoline and set him aflame, but I figured it’s connected to the way Martin Vanger died in the movie. *hints*

You can watch the sequence here.

❏ Rooney Mara. In my honest opinion, Rooney nailed Lisbeth Salander’s character to perfection.  She effectively encased herself in the same hard shell as Lisbeth and still let out all the things that define the character—the spunk, the iron will, the rage she couldn’t keep at bay, her intense albeit off-kilter way of achieving justice, and that little shade of fragility that still makes her the human we know from the pages of the first Millennium book. After seeing Fincher’s adaptation, the name Rooney became synonymous with Lisbeth in my mental thesaurus. I haven’t seen the original Swedish version yet (I will!), but I guess it’s hard to ‘dethrone’ Rooney for me now.

Rooney

❏ The Irony. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie for the most part. But based on most of the audience’s reactions, I think it wasn’t that successful in relaying what Larsson is really trying to say. Did they even try to convey it in the first place? The book (which is originally and aptly entitled “Men Who Hate Women”) is meant to call for action against rape, trafficking, and any kind of abuse perpetrated by male suspects. Lisbeth is supposed to be the embodiment of this action, and I guess only those who’ve mulled over what the book is all about will realize this. I was too excited to realize right off the bat that the film subverted the very essence of it. Did it objectify Lisbeth? Again, based on the comments that treat the girl as if she’s some kind of a sex symbol, I think it did. I'll appreciate you leaving your two cents.

❏ “I am a Rapist Pig.” The scenes with Nils Bjurman are as harrowing as the ones in the book, but I have to admit that Rooney’s screams and her showcase of apathetic brutality made the scenes all the more disturbing. Hell hath no fury like a Lisbeth Salander scorned! And oh, heed it girls—Taser guns are the new pepper sprays. :p

❏ The Hunt. No rants about the tag-team: Lisbeth and Blomkvist’s search for the woman-killer was translated well on screen, from the Leviticus connection to the old photographs of the Children’s Parade. I know you don’t want to read any of my feminist blatherings anymore, but  they could have zeroed in on the gender-based crimes more. Just saying.

files

❏ Stieg Blomkvist! I’m very sorry, but Blomkvist still felt like a Gary Stu to me, both in the book and in the movie. I look up to Larsson and I love Craig, but it’s hard to ignore that Blomkvist is the author’s own glorified fictional alter ego—a thinly veiled one at that.
❏❏ Why, Don Juan? Why am I asking this? I already know Blomkvist is a self-insert. He doesn’t interest me whatsoever, and I loathe how he so effortlessly draw girls to bed. Come the eff on. Even Lisbeth? :(
❏❏❏ Why, Don Juan (part II)? Blomkvist is the Millennium trilogy’s Achilles’ Heel. I just have to say that in a different line.
❏ The ‘Parents’. I’m aware of the limits of a two-and-a-half-hour movie versus a 700-page book, but I wish they didn’t completely leave out the subplot about Lisbeth Salander’s mother. I thought it would be much better if they included bits of it, at least for the sake of a glimpse of her private life. But then again maybe that’s what they’re aiming for her character—enigmatic ‘til the end.  I hope they make up for it in the next film installments.

PalmgrenLisbeth

Anyhoo, I kind of wish the same thing about Milton Security CEO Dragan Armansky. I know he’s just a minor character, but he’s one of the few men that actually cares for Lisbeth in the book…at least after he snaps out of his inexplicable attraction to her and begins to stand as her surrogate father of some kind. Meanwhile, the scenes Lisbeth had with Palmgren show a little of her softer side. I especially loved the chess scene near the end. :’)

❏ Mimmi Wu. I just felt like mentioning her, okay? She’s Lisbeth’s lesbian friend and occasional lover. :p I thought they’d leave her out because Larsson just mentioned her in passing (in the first book).

❏ Babysitting Blomkvist. Maybe it was mentioned in the movie and I just missed it? I liked how in the book, Blomkvist has already met Harriet and Anita when he’s still a toddler. Aside from backing up the supposed closeness of the two girls, mentioning this will also bring Blomkvist father’s into the picture, which will make Henrik’s choice about hiring Blomkvist more believable. Yeah, yeah, you can’t cram everything in the movie. But dang, a line or two about it would suffice.

❏ Enya. THIS. The non-stop earworm after I heard it! Haha. Remember the scene where Martin Vanger traps Blomkvist in his torture chamber? It had me cracking up like crazy. I know it’s inappropriate, but the moment I heard “Orinoco Flow,” I lost it. The track being chosen as a ‘murderous’ tune is said to be Daniel Craig’s fault. :)

❏ "To Sally, Who Taught me the Benefits of Golf." I have to include this, because the movie didn’t. It was written on the dedication page of Blomkvist’s “revenge” report for Wennerström, referring to Lisbeth saving him from Martin in the latter’s murder den.

❏ The Anita-Harriet Twist.  Practically still the same the ending, but Fincher twisted it up in a manner that will be able to surprise even the ones who’ve read books. It’s very  well-played, though if you ask me the book’s original ending is still better.

❏ The Investment. Need I say more? I enjoyed every minute of it. I haven’t read the last two books yet, so I still don’t know if they’d ever find out it’s Lisbeth who emptied Wennerström’s bank accounts. :p

theinvestment

___

All in all it’s still a very good movie, and it made me want to read The Girl Who Played with Fire right after I watched it. :) Still, I think I need to see the original Swedish version.