Friday, 30 December 2016

Why Hulktasha needs to die (and a brief feminist rant)

(Mild spoilers warning.)

In case you are living under a rock and haven't seen Avengers 2: Age of Ultron yet, allow me to give you a quick update. Beyond a baddie trying to destroy the world yet again, the Hulk and Black Widow (AKA Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (hence Hulktasha)) end up falling in love or whatever. This makes me mildly angry as it ruined a perfectly good movie. This ship needs to sink. (It goes to show how angry I am over this that I'm writing a post about it like two years after the movie came out.)


It came out of nowhere. Yes, Black Widow was sent to recruit the Hulk in The Avengers (it was one of my favourite scenes in the movie, actually), but just because two characters share a scene together doesn't mean they must be romantically involved. In Age of Ultron Black Widow seemed to start flirting for no apparent reason (yes, she can calm the Hulk but that mostly happens off-screen), and for a woman who's worked as a professional assassin that seemed a little too out of character for me. 

She was afraid he wouldn't love her because she couldn't have children. Let's ignore the killing and lying and torture and stuff for a moment, because not being able having children is the real deal-broker here. Why is her worth stuck on her fertility? It makes for a cool backstory, of course, but come on. 

This was the only movie she got kidnapped in. And had to have someone come rescue her. And by "someone" I mean her love interest. Excuse me? Since when does Black Widow, the Black Widow, need someone to come help her out? If she's going to get kidnapped, she's going to bust herself out. She's going to take down the bad guy from the inside and walk away from the burning building in slo-mo while epic music plays in the background. She is not going to stay in a cage and wait for her Prince Charming to rescue her.


I'm not saying that female characters should never fall in love. That would be epically anti-feminist of me. I am saying that when characters are shoved into romantic relationships just because, well, she's a female and she should probably fall in love at some point, then we have a problem. Female characters are allowed to fall in love. Female characters are also allowed to not fall in love. I felt the love story was confusing and didn't add anything to the plot (and oh, in The Winter Soldier and Civil War Black Widow didn't have a love interest... and didn't need rescuing). 

Do you like Hulktasha? Where do you want to see this relationship go?  

Friday, 23 December 2016

Movie review: Rogue One

After Disney bought Star Wars, nerds everywhere have been blessed with a rapid influx of movies that seem to almost come out faster than we can refill our wallets. (Almost.) This year, it's Rogue One hitting theatres. Shortly before A New Hope, a young Jyn is living with her mother and her scientist father on a farm, but the empire shows up and forces her father to work on the Death Star. Jyn barely manages to escape. Eventually, she's roped into finding her father to help save life, the universe and everything. 


I wasn't terribly impressed at first. I felt the plot was a little slow, and there was a lot of back story and explaining to be done before we really got anywhere. (And unlike every other Star Wars movie ever, the main theme didn't blast out right after the title sequence. I felt a little betrayed.) Like yeah, we can all see where this is going. Rebel girl doesn't want to help rebels, gets captured and forced to help, falls in love with the captain, sees the error of her ways and takes down the empire. Been there, done that. 

But then the second half of the movie hit. For the most part, my prediction was accurate but it was the execution that nailed it. I warmed up to Jyn about a third of the way through the movie, and though she was rough around the edges I loved her for it anyways. The secondary characters were beautiful little cinnamon rolls and they were often at odds with each other, which was great for conflict. 

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when the plot sped up, but I found myself on the edge of my seat at some point and I couldn't sit back down. There were rebellions within the rebellion, there were executions in the rain, there were massive fights on the beach and explosions and people sneaking into bases and it was all so glorious and beautiful. (And there wasn't a love story. I almost cried golden unicorn tears of happiness.) 


Other notes: Like The Force Awakens, the whole movie felt so real and gritty, unlike many movies dripping in CGI. And the ending. It completely took me by surprise, but it was perfect. (However, spoilers. But it was awesome.) And I was also very pleased with the fact that Jyn (and Rey in The Force Awakens) weren't noticeably wearing makeup (because let's be honest it's Hollywood of course they're wearing makeup). It's a big improvement from Return of the Jedi where Leia was rescuing Han from Jabba and she had her makeup perfectly done. I don't have time to do my makeup on a day-to-day basis, let alone when I'm fighting a crime lord. I like the women in Star Wars are becoming more real, more human. Overall, Rogue One is another win for Disney and for the fans (but not for our wallets), and just by writing this review I've become desperate to rewatch the latest saga in the Star Wars universe. 

Have you seen Rogue One yet? What did you think? Do you think Disney is overdoing it with the Star Wars movies? 

A Christmas message (you're welcome)

I'm not usually one for a long analysis of Bible passages because goodness, I did enough of that at school. So this Christmas message will be fairly short and will not contain much in-text referencing. 

Let's start with the passage I'll be analyzing today, shall we? 

Luke 1 (NIV)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God."
I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the story, even if you're not a Christian. An angel shows up, goes yo dude, you're going to have a child and Mary goes okay sounds good. I didn't paste the entire story in, but that's the general idea. 
The thing that stands out to me in this passage is that the angel says "do not be afraid." I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty terrified. From what we know about angels, they probably don't have the harps and halos and stuff, and people often don't know that angels are angels until later. If you think about it, Mary has probably seen a random guy show up to her house and announce that she's going to have a child. We don't know if she knows he's an angel yet. Maybe she does. Either way, she's scared. 
Let's look at another passage.
Luke 2 (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Are you seeing the resemblance? These shepherds are scared out of their minds. These dudes know this is God and they're shaking in their boots. Once again, and angel has to say woah man, don't freak out. 
So we have these stories (and I'm positive you can find other examples, especially in the Old Testament) of people meeting God or one of God's angels and having a little bit of a panic attack. I love that. I love how when faced with someone as powerful and amazing and intensely awesome as God, or even God's angels who are nothing compared to Him, people start to freak out. 
That's the type of God I want to serve. I want to serve the most powerful, the most incredible being that ever has or ever will exist. He created the earth and the universe in six days, He set humanity in motion, He makes the earth spin round and He keeps the oceans in check. That kind of power is unimaginable, and in the Bible people have (rightly so) been terrified when they meet Him. And that's the God who loves me enough to die for me, and that's pretty cool. 
Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Redefining friendship

On Saturday, my martial arts club had a Christmas party of sorts on a nearby island. Seven of us went, and we all hopped on a boat/jet ski and drove (rode? Not sure of the proper verb here) to the island.

I had the greatest time. The weather was beautiful, I got to drive the jet ski and we all got a few fights in (although you had to wonder what everyone else on the beach was thinking when we all started attacking each other.) (The resulting sunburn, on the other hand, was less than fabulous.)

Apologies for the less than stellar quality, I didn't have my normal camera with me.  

Five years ago, I would have never imagined doing something like this. Never in my wildest dreams could I have pictured myself spending the day on a nearby island with a bunch of friends who I had gotten to know by them choking me out. According to my twelve-year-old self, friends were people you went to school with. People you met up with once or twice a month to have a sleepover with, who shared similar interests as you, who you've been friends with forever and so you continued to be.

Ever since we'd moved, I've had to continually redefine friendship. Friends aren't just workplace proximity associates. They're people you binge watch Doctor Who with. They're people who lend you their shoulder to cry on at a funeral. They're people who send you memes when they should be studying. They're people who get up early to go for a run with you, who continue to email and text despite the distance, who gloat over a game of UNO, who sell you their old textbooks, who go on shopping trips with you, who tackle you when you're not looking, who swap book recommendations, who fall off jet skis with you, who write long, heart-felt emails even though they've never met you. They're people who trust you with their dog, their kids, their house. They're people who make sure you've eaten enough that day, who ask you if everything is alright even though they know it's not, who remind you that you're not the only one dealing with stuff.

The more I thought about this during the boat road over, the more I realised this day trip didn't fit my old definition of friendship at all. The more I thought about it, the more I realised most of my friends now don't fit my old definition of friendship. I don't want to go back go my old definition. I want to keep pushing the boundaries, pushing what my internal dictionary says because so far some of my best memories have been made outside of those narrow requirements.

Over the past five years I've had my fair share of challenges, and while I'm excited I'm also terrified for my next five years in life. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's where there's fear there's God's love and the chance to continually redefine friendship, and I am so thankful for both.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Write what you know, and if you don't know it then don't write it

I've been having issues lately. (Obviously, we all know this. I literally do nothing but scream about Spider-Man and post random pictures. (On the topic of Spider-Man, the new trailer came out AND MY LIFE HAS CHANGED FOREVER.)) 

You may remember way back in April when I did Camp NaNoWriMo. It was a super great experience and a big part of the reason why I did NaNo this November, and I don't regret it for a second. My book was about this girl who gets trapped in another dimension and falls in love with someone there. In later books, they break up.

Does this weird you out?
Because it weirds me out. 

I've been having issues with going on to write the next two books in the trilogy and properly editing the first one because I don't have the right life experience to write it. Obviously, I've never been trapped in another dimension before (although that would probably explain my issues, to be honest). On the other hand, I've never been in a romantic relationship. I'm totally fine with that, too, because a boyfriend would probably just slow me down (I've got Mordor to invade here, why are you holding my hand?!?!) and I'm not in a place right now where I want that. (Guys in books are way more low-maintence anyways, unless they're killed in some horrible way and make me cry every time someone mentions their name. (I'm looking at you, Maze Runner.)) Never having been in a romantic relationship, though, means I've never had a break-up. 

This makes my books mildly difficult to write. 

I love the characters. I love the world. I love the plot. I love all the lovely science bits and machinery and inter-dimensional travel. I just can't do the emotions justice. 

When you first get into writing, one of the pieces of advice that's thrown around quite frequently is to write what you know. Write a book set in your hometown, you know it best. Write a book set in high school, you've been there. Write about a trip to Thailand, you've travelled there. I think it's a really good piece of advice and I've used it quite often, but there are limits because obviously writers can't know everything. We can't know what the next dimension to the left is like. We can't know what it's like to die. We can't know what it's like to swing through Manhattan in a onesie, webbing up bad guys (unfortunately).  

I, in all my infinite wisdom, have placed the boundaries of write what you know on emotions. I can do the research and use my imagination to write the story of someone who lives on a spaceship, in a fictional city, on a deserted island. I can research and make up what it's like to live during the Middle Ages, ancient China or Australia fifty years from now. (Obviously there are limits and it's always best to do your research and talk to people who have actually had those experiences, especially regarding race, gender, disabilities or illnesses.)

But I can't pretend to know what it's like to be in love with someone, then to have my heart broken afterwards. I feel like I'll be doing people who have had those experiences an injustice because the emotions won't be quite right. On the other hand, I really love my idea for my trilogy and want it to work. I'm just not sure if now is the right time to force it. 

Have you ever had to write something you weren't familiar with? Any advice for me? How closely do you follow write what you know

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Airport goodbyes

Last week we had to say goodbye to some good friends of ours. They had moved here from Texas about two years ago, and by way of 'welcome to Australia' my mom had my sister stalk them until they handed over an address and phone number. The rest, as they say, is history. 

My sister and their oldest daughter got along really well, especially considering they were both immigrants and both spoke the same language of Goldfish, pumpkin pie, the distaste of uniforms and white Christmases. It was great to sit back and watch them chat and to see all their other friends be really confused. We often got together for family dinners at the beach, and during Thanksgiving they'd always stop by and drop off a pumpkin pie for us. 

Last Sunday, we drove to the airport to say goodbye. Their visa had run out, and it was time for them to leave despite the fact that no one but the government wanted them to. Tears were shed. Pictures were taken. Presents were given. And flights were caught. 

Unlike many others, I didn't cry and I haven't cried since. I wasn't even that sad. It wasn't because I didn't love the family; I did. It wasn't because I'm a heartless monster; I'm not. (Well, depending on who you talk to.)

I think it's because I've almost become immune to airport goodbyes, having been through so many myself on both the leaving and the staying end. Maybe at a certain point the calls of last flights and the gentle hum of the security conveyor belt wash over you but don't sink into your skin. Maybe I'm at that point. Or, maybe it's because gone, gone is such a terrible concept and I can't allow myself the luxury of attempting to understand it right now. 

In either case, I didn't cry and I haven't since, and I can't lie and say I'm sad. Gone hasn't sunk in quite yet. 

(After saying goodbye, we were walking out of the airport when one of our friends said, "Well, 2016 has sucked." I almost replied, "Actually, we've had the lowest level of maternal deaths overall this year, so that's pretty awesome," except I then realised he was not talking about maternal deaths but his personal life.  Needless to say, I'm very glad my mom jumped in and said something around the lines of, "I'm sure some nice things have happened as well.")

My family and a bunch of our friends went out for Mexican and gelato. Despite the fact that one of our group was gone, it was good to be with friends again, despite gone. 

Have you ever experienced an airport goodbye? What was the worst goodbye you've ever had to do? Talk to me in the comments!

Friday, 9 December 2016

NaNoWriMo snippets (sort of)

Just so we're clear, NaNoWriMo took my brain, diced it with a lightsaber, dunked it in the lava of Mustafa and gave it to Kylo Ren to throw against the wall when he gets angry. (Obviously, I'm in the mood for the next Star Wars to just come out already.) 

My NaNo manuscript is in no way ready for show and tell, so instead of snippets from my actual manuscript I thought I'd share some writing I did while I was supposed to be slam-dunking my word count for the day. (This is probably the reason why my brain is nothing but scattered pieces of the Death Star. (Episode VIII where are you?!?!)) 

"How cool is it that the same God who created mountains
and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the
world needed one of you, too?" Just in case you
couldn't read my writing.
* * *

It is 10:25pm, which isn't really late for me but I have siblings to drive to school and work in the morning and I've never really been a morning person anyways. I'm up late writing my WIP for NaNoWriMo because I haven't hit my word count yet because I had to work unexpectedly today, but I don't really mind. I love these quiet nights. It's just the glow of my screen, the dull clicks of my keyboard, the blue flashing light from my headphones, the soft, swaying chords of the indie music falling down my ear canals. It's just the words and I, and no one else. No expectations. No demons from the back of my mind. No one looking over my shoulder to read and judge and stare and critique. No worries, no stress of everything I have to do yet haven't done yet. 

It's just the clicks
the blue flashing light
the chords
the glowing screen
the quiet
and the words.

* * *

How's everyone doing? I feel like I've been out of the loop for too long. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

In which I am not, in fact, dead

So spoiler alert, I have not died. I have, in fact, been a little busy hence why I have sadly had to neglect all my lovely friends over yonder Internet. (I have no idea if that sentence made any sense but we're just going to run with it.) 

I've been busy, though! November has not gone to waste for me.

I have...
-kicked NaNoWriMo's butt (finished a day early with 50,225 words)
-read tons of books
-been busy with my younger sister's graduation
-worn through the knees of my beloved gi 
-gotten a temporary tattoo, which was supposed to last a month but only lasted a week (thanks, Internet) 
-had my mental health decide to just quit
-worked waaay more than normal
-moved into the living room because that's where the air con is and summer sucks
-mourned the death of winter
-bought my school textbooks for next year (*sobs*)
-spent a good five hours at church trying to get ready for Christmas (and almost threw the computer at the wall in the process)
-drove all around town trying to find houseplants for my sister
-got a pretty good sunburn while attempting to find said houseplants for my sister
-watched my awesome brother get his school awards
-had a going away party for a friend (more on that next week)
-relentlessly teased my sister about her wicked sunburn
-headed to the big library in the next town for an amazing book haul

All in all, I don't really have much of an excuse for being away for so long except NaNo, which I should have seen coming and, you know, prepared blog-wise for it. Apparently I'm not Wonder Woman who can do all the things. (Besides, Wonder Woman is waaaay cooler than I am.) 

I am thankful for the break, I think I needed to take a step back from blogging for a month and focus on other things. In saying that, I'm glad to be back online and once again back in the thick of things. Thanks for being patient with me during my unexpected hiatus!

Have I missed much while I was away? How did everyone do with NaNoWriMo?