Friday, 28 October 2016

Movie review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Now because I tried writing a blurb and utterly failed, I just mangled the iBooks oneWhen Jacob's grandfather, Abe, a WWII veteran, is savagely murdered, Jacob has a nervous breakdown, in part because he believes that his grandfather was killed by a monster that only they could see. On his psychiatrist's advice, Jacob and his father travel from their home in Florida to Cairnholm Island off the coast of Wales, which, during the war, housed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Abe, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis, lived there before enlisting, and the mysteries of his life and death lead Jacob back to that institution. 

It's basically like X-Men with teenagers in Wales. (In other words, the book was utterly amazing.)


So I've been a fan of the books for a couple of years now, and I was beyond excited for the movie to come out. The book has a very particular, uh, peculiar, tone, and the thought of seeing that on the big screen had me jumping up and down (quite literally, to my family's confusion and annoyance). 

The first three quarters stayed mostly true to the book, which I was thrilled about. (It always seems to me that the moment they stray is the moment they lose the plot (more on that later)). Jacob's character was done quite well and I had no problem merging my Book Jacob into the Movie Jacob (you know what I'm talking about if you've ever read a book then watched the movie), and I absolutely loved every scene in Wales because the atmosphere was just perfect. 

That being said, I had a lot of problems with this movie. Like, a lot a lot, Miss Peregrine being one of them. There were moments when she was absolutely perfect, then there would be another moment when she completely threw me. (Kinda like the tone. Sometimes the tone was perfect, then sometimes something felt just... off.) The romance (which was great in the book, by the way) fell flat on its face and the only emotion I felt during the entire movie was a slight twinge of apprehension. There were moments when I felt like turning to my sister and going "oh, so this was definitely directed by Tim Burton," then rolling my eyes. I suppose that's always been one of my problems with Tim Burton movies; there are moments when I feel completely alienated from his films. Perhaps that's just me, though. 

The climax was completely different from the book, where they [spoiler] because [spoiler] so they could [spoiler]. That in itself I didn't mind, because they ended up wrapping up the trilogy in the one movie (a good move, in my opinion). The transition from the source material to the added climax was done smoothly and if you hadn't have read the book you would have never known that there was a whole new part to the movie. However, once again there was a scene that was just too weird, even for a movie with the word "peculiar" in the title and my suspension of disbelief went through a rough patch. 

I'm still indecisive about how I feel about the movie. On one hand, they did a great job of keeping to the book and I appreciate that. Jacob's character was translated very well, and the atmosphere of Wales and the home for the peculiar children was spot on. It was just the lack of emotion and those moments that made me step back and ask what was going on that made me walk away without a smile on my face. 

P.S. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, so I'll probably be behind on everything blog related. I'm not ignoring you, I'm just... well... ignoring you to finish my book. Thanks for understanding!

Have you seen the movie or read the book (or both)? What did you think? 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A severe case of wanderlust

I have self-diagnosed myself with a severe case of wanderlust. 

I want to travel the world. Whenever I get thinking about how big the world is, how enormous, with all its hidden wonders I just want to get on a plane and go. There are so many back alleys covered with the graffiti of a teenager who doesn't know how to deal with the words and images drowning his soul, so many monuments built to honour gods who are no longer worshiped, so many forests covered in a dusting of snow where bobcats tread on velvet paws. 

There is so much food I have never tried, oceans I haven't drank, skies I've never touched, so many languages that I've never heard spoken aloud. There are so many customs I've never heard of, so many paths to take in life that I haven't even considered and that's such a beautiful thing. 

What's the point of staying in one place for the rest of your life? Of course, there will always be security in a job, a house, a car, a routine, and to be human is to need security. It's a human need to have a roof to hide under when the winds come. You can be safe, but you'll look up at your ceiling every night and know that it's as far as you're getting. 

I don't have to sell everything and travel from place to place, never settling. I've had plenty of feeling unsettled in my lifetime. I'm fine with living in one place, but I hope I never stop looking up at the sky and wondering what else is out there. I hope I never decide to spend my vacation savings on a new toy instead, I hope I never forget what it's like to step off a plane and think, what now? I hope I never overestimate my importance in this world enough to think that I don't need further education in culture, music, language, geography, people. I hope I never lose my unsatisfiable craving for the next horizon. 

Have you caught this new strain of wanderlust yet? 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 3)

During the last two weeks, I've been talking about why you should journal and I've also given some (not so) helpful hints on how to actually do it. This week, I thought I'd talk about what tips I've learned over the years to get more out of it and have some fun along the way. 

1. Throw format out the window. There was once a point where I tried to get my entries to fit on the same page so I could start each new entry at the top of a new page. Um, excuse me? Who has energy for that? And if you don't like the typical entry format, then do a calendar thing. If you don't like the calendar thing, then write lists. You're a creative person, figure out what works best for you and go do it! 

2. Writing lists is boring. Write emotions instead. I woke up. I went to school. I did work. I came home. I did homework. I watched TV. I went to bed. Excuse me while I fall asleep here. How about you write about how at school your best friend accidentally dropped her lunch on your teacher's head right before going into an exam? What about how thrilled you were when you got your marks back? The direction you want to take in your novel? Not only is writing about how you feel about certain things more interesting (for both the reader and the writer) but it helps you get your thoughts out, too. 

3. Make it yours. So I used to write the standard entries. Very plain. Very boring. I still enjoyed it, of course (I'm still journalling, after all) but a few months ago I started writing in French to get some more practice in. Then, I discovered bullet journals and was like hey! I can doodle! Let's go doodle! Now I use my doodling to calm down if I'm upset about something. (By the way, I'm not really an artistic person so I just started searching things on Pinterest and low and behold, more creative people than me have put tons of stuff on there for me to copy.) I also like to keep ticket stubs and brochures stuffed between the pages. 

What are your favourite journalling tips? 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Music Tag

A thanks to the lovely Jessica @ Apples of Gold for the tag! (Now you all have to read about my weird music choices. *laughs evilly while lightning flashes in the background*)

Let's get started, shall we? 

1) Do you play any instruments? 

No, and everyone around me thanks me for that. I have about negative zero skill with the playing of anything musical. That includes singing, keeping a beat, and pretty much anything besides plugging headphones in. 

2) What your favourite music genre? 

I'd probably have to say Christian rock (I've just started getting into Skillet), but I like just plain old rock, too. I also like some really excellent classical music (Tchaikovsky's been a big one lately) and some pop is pretty good as well. I also have a soft spot for good indie, as well. I JUST LIKE ALL THE MUSIC, OK? 

3) Is there a music genre you absolutely cannot stand? 

TOUGH GUY GYM MUSIC. IT MUST DIE. (I have no idea if that's a legit genre or not, but it seems to be.) It's all they play at jiu jitsu and sometimes I just want to throw the speakers across the room, but lately it hasn't been bothering me so much. Maybe it's because I've hated it for so long, unable to escape it, that the boiling water is so hot it feels cold? I also have a thing against rap (there's like three songs ever that I've enjoyed that have rap in them (actually, tough guy gym music has a lot of rap in it...)). 

4) What is your favourite way to listen to music? (CD, vinyl, MP3, radio, etc.)

I love listening to music live, but with a lack of wandering musicians around the town (pff, this town is crazy) I usually just turn my headphones on and crank it. (Yes, I will be deaf by the time I hit thirty. Yes, I'm concerned.)

5) Who/what are your favourite bands/singer? 

This question is SO hard. If I absolutely had to chose three, I'd probably say Owl City, Relient K and Of Monsters and Men and Imagine Dragons would probably tie for third. 

6) What are your three favourite chords? 

Excellent question, I'll tell you when I figure out what a chord is. 

If I may brag for a minute here, I'm so proud of this shot because it was taken from a moving ferry without a tripod in the dark. That's hard, guys.

7) If you had to pick a song to sum up your entire life, your very essence, the core of your being, which song would you pick? 

(That's right, we get deep on this blog.) After much deliberation, I'd say Do Life Big by Jamie Grace because obviously I want to do life big. We've only been given one life, and I'd rather do it right and throw glitter everywhere while I'm at it. 

8) What do you think is the purpose of music? 

I actually have no idea. Different music has different purposes, but for me it's an escape (tip: the best therapy is cranking your favourite song as high as it'll go then screaming along to it), worship, entertainment, to express different emotions and to fill the gap in my mind where unwanted thoughts sometimes gather like dusty spiderwebs. 

And because I'm doing this late the night before this post is due, I tag everyone! (Shh, I'm not being lazy, I promise.)

Answer your favourite question in the comments!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 2)

Journalling is great. (I covered that in part 1.) It's an awesome way to remember what you did last week (especially when you're someone like me who only remembers what I had for breakfast because I have the same thing every morning (two minute oats, if you must know)) and to get the frustration out of the day out of your system.

Today, I thought I'd go over how exactly you're supposed to journal. Mostly, you just sit down and write about your day, but that's a bit boring and doesn't properly fill a blog post so I've come up with a fool-proof guide for you.

Victoria's Guide to Journalling

1) Buy yourself a beautiful journal from your local bookstore.
2) Let your family know that you are journaling and write in it in front of them so they know how dedicated you are.
3) Be dedicated and write in it daily for up to three weeks.
4) Miss a day and apologize in your journal, even though you know that probably no one will read it. 
5) Realize that you are writing the same thing every day. (I woke up, went to school, did homework, watched TV, went to bed.) 
6) Re-think your life. 
7) Realize all life is meaningless and that we are all going to die. 
8) Voice these thoughts in your journal, because your journal is where all your important thoughts belong. 
9) Discover that being deep and meaningful is fun and fill up several pages of deep and meaningful thoughts. 
10) Re-discover how fun journaling is, re-discover the meaning of life and re-discover pizza (because why not?). 
11) Impulsively buy every beautiful journal you come across, drain your bank account and stack the new and oh-so-beautiful journals underneath your bed for the day you'll need them. 
12) Journal like mad for the next several weeks/months.
13) Finish your journal and feel very proud of yourself. 
14) Repeat steps 1-14 as many times as necessary. 

Do you journal? Do you ever find yourself following any of these steps? 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Australia's weird history

Australia has a little bit of a weird history, especially if you start looking into it. A while back, I started researching all this stuff and thought it'd be fun to share my findings with you all. So without further ado, here are three really weird stories from Australia's history. 

A maliciously damaged ribbon

Francis Edward de Groot (1888-1969) fought in the First World War and was rewarded a ceremonial sword for his service. He moved to Sydney and settled into his new career as an antique dealer and furniture manufacturer, and he also became a member of the New Guard (a right-wing paramilitary organization). 

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on March 19th, 1932, he was part of the honour guard. However, right before the ribbon was cut, de Groot rode his horse forwards, sliced the ribbon with his ceremonial sword and proclaimed, "In the name of the loyal and decent citizens of New South Wales, I declare this bridge open." Despite the interruption, the ribbon was simply tied back together and the ceremony was continued. (Gotta admire their dedication there.)

De Groot was arrested and his ceremonial sword confiscated. He was sent to the Lunatic Reception House, where he was declared insane (but two different doctors later examined him and both found him to be sane). In the end, de Groot was fined five pounds in total, with four pounds for "maliciously damaging a ribbon." (Seriously though, just imagine trying to read that last bit in court with a straight face.) (Sources, sources, and more sources.)

Convict cops

In 1789, crime was on the rise in the new Australian colony. In response, Governor Arthur Phillip created the Night Watch. However, with Australia being Australia at the time and thus filled with convicts, he had very little manpower and thus chose the twelve best-behaved convicts for his new guard. 

It wasn't his first choice, of course. As Phillip said, "A watch established for the preservation of public and private property should have been formed of free people," but he did what he had to do. Thirty years after the Night Watch had been formed, Sydney had about 60 constables, and most of them had been convicts. (Sources, sources, and even more sources.)

The Somerton Man

December 1st, 1945. Two men found a body leaning against a wall on Somerton Beach, Adelaide. He had an expensive suit and tie on, but all the labels had been removed from his clothes and he had no ID on him. There was no sign of violence or of a struggle, and no trace of poison in his system. 

The police found a piece of paper in his pocket, with the printed words "Tam├ím Shud" (Persian for "it is finished"). The paper had been torn from a book that had been placed in a stranger's car a few streets away. (It gets weirder, though.) Inside the book, there was some text that looked like a coded message but to this day remains uncracked. As this was the beginning of the Cold War, theories have been thrown around, such as that the man was a Soviet spy. Was there an undetectable poison involved? Suicide? Or just an ordinary, accidental death? (Sources, sources, and yet more sources.)

What's a weird story you've come across in your travels through history books? Which Australian story was your favourite? 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 1)

I'll be the first to admit (and by "admit" I mean jump up and down and scream and generally be annoying about it) that I'm an avid journaler. I write almost every night (I miss nights, yeah, but I sound better if I don't admit that), and whenever I need to just unload my thoughts I can often be found in my bed, gel pens and journal in hand. 

We're going a bit abstract with the pictures-that-don't-ever-match-what-the-post-is-talking-about today, if you don't mind. 

Because I enjoy journalling so much, I figured I'd share my many tips and tricks with you. (I mostly just like trying to get people to do the same things I like doing. I'm weird that way.) Today, we're going to focus on why exactly you should be journaling in the first place (hint: because it's awesome). 

Like Spider-Man, we all have crazy things going on in our lives. (You knew I had to bring Spider-Man into this at some point.) We've got villains and explosions and that new girl at school with the crazy haircut and science experiments gone wrong and that last devastating math exam, and I know I personally get to the point where I need to talk about it all or I'll explode. Unfortunately, I don't always have access to people who don't mind me talking their faces off. Before I go to bed, I like to sit down, take out my pen and just write whatever's on my mind. By the time I'm done, I feel so much lighter and calmer because the stuff that was cluttering my head was swept out when I wrote about it. 

It's also a pretty good way of keeping track of who did what when. When we were applying for permanent residency for Australia, we had to declare which countries we went to on what days, which was a bit difficult because we've done a lot of traveling since we've moved. It was the easiest thing in the world for me to pull out my travel journals and read out the dates for Mom. I can tell you when we went to see different movies, what we did on every day of each of our vacations (and what I thought about it), any childhood adventures I've had and when I've started or finished different writing projects. I don't have enough room in my head for all that, but I don't need to bother because I can just look it up. 

Keeping a journal makes your goals pretty clear. As I've mentioned before, I'm not good with talking and my thoughts often get tangled in my head, but as soon as I pick up a pen everything makes so much more sense. Journalling is my favourite way of figuring out what exactly it is that I want, and how I'm going to get it. (I can also look back on previous goals and learn lessons from those, too.)

Journalling, in short, is awesome. I've been writing for years, and I don't think I'll be stopping in the near future. 

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever tried? What are your best tips? 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Quading for the first time in forever

Can we all just appreciate the Frozen reference, there? (Sorry, I'm still not over Frozen.)

Anywho, when I was in Canada, we decided to go for a quading trip with our old neighbours and some friends of Dad's. We used to be pretty big quaders in our day, but after we sold them to move we obviously haven't been doing a lot lately. 

Also, just to point out to the entire world, Dad finally got his act together. Going to these falls was an almost-annual thing we used to do, and when I was little and went he didn't allow me to climb down to see the falls up close because it was too dangerous. The next year, I was sick so I stayed home but my brother (who is younger than me, by the way) went and Dad allowed him to go down to the falls. Favouritism, sexism, weak-willism, whatever you want to call it, it's not cool. So I finally, finally got to actually see the falls this time. 

I'm super thankful to our neighbours and friends who let us borrow their quads, because I had a really great time. Dad and I shared a quad (it actually used to be our old quad, and we just borrowed it back from the friend we sold it to) and we each drove halfway. 

We drove through puddles, streams and rivers, through mud and over hastily-made bridges, up and down hills and over rocks so huge I struggled to hang on. By the time we got to the waterfall, I was so hungry that I scarfed down a peanut butter and jam sandwich and wished for more. 

The falls were absolutely stunning, and we had the privilege of climbing down the (very steep) hill and going behind the waterfall. The mist soaked my hair and clothes, and was difficult to hear each other speak with the roar of the water crashing down all around us. It was a very humbling experience, to be so close to something so magnificent and completely unaware of our existence. 

When was the last time you were humbled by nature?