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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Alien: Covenant Review

My partner and I went on a spontaneous movie date on the weekend and decided to see Alien: Covenant. I haven't seen all of the Alien films so far, but I saw Prometheus in cinemas and enjoyed the snippets of the other films that I've seen.

Alien: Covenant starts on a philosophical note, with a throw-back to the creation of David, the synthetic who was on board the Prometheus. Cut to Covenant, a space vessel on a cross-galaxy expedition to settle a colony on a far-away planet, were Walter is overseeing the day-to-day upkeep of the ship while the crew and colonists are in cryosleep. An unforeseen emergency requires the crew to suddenly wake up and thus begins the action. There is death before we even see any aliens, and although the audience doesn't get the chance to form a bond with the deceased crew member, we do start caring about the crew mates left behind as they deal with the sudden loss.

Amidst grieving and repairing the ship, the crew picks up a rogue signal from a nearby planet that looks potentially inhabitable and go in for a closer look; they are excited by the prospect of reaching a planet to colonize, as their original target is still 7 years away. A portion of the crew takes a lander vessel down and soon enough, the audience picks up signs of danger that the characters are oblivious to. After losing half of the ground crew to aliens (in both classic burst-out-of-your-body and maul-the-fuck-outta-you styles), the remaining handful are seemingly rescued by David, the synthetic from the Prometheus, which disappeared ten years early.

Naturally, the audience should be suspicious of David, as he tells an overly simplistic tail to explain the fate of the Prometheus crew. He's a little too curious about the colony mission and details like how many colonists the Covenant is transporting. I felt that the newly made captain Oram gave up this information a little too easily and could have exercised better caution in the presence of this stranger. The relationship David tries to forge with the Covenant's synthetic, Walter, is creepy at best and there are alarm bells going off left, right, and centre that David is up to something. The fact that both of the synthetics are played by Michael Fassbender (who does an excellent job, by the way) makes the audience more and more distrustful and we do double-takes in every scene where they both appear. Will David get Walter on board with his insidious plans? Will they do a good ol' switcheroo?

One of the highlights of the film for me was when David recites 'Ozymandias' in front of Walter. This is accompanied by a revelation of some of David's horrific actions between arriving on this planet and the arrival of the Covenant crew. Amidst this discussion of creation and perfection, Walter asks David who wrote 'Ozymandias', and David wrongly attributes the poem to Lord George Gordon Byron. The dynamics between David and Walter were certainly my favourite part of the film.

The death-tally shot up as the movie drew to a close and sure enough there was a false sense of security before more and more danger was revealed. But I won't spoil the ending. I liked it, so you should go watch it and make your own judgments on the juicy details.

Have you seen Alien: Covenant yet? What did you think? 
- Bonnee.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Review or Two (or Three)

It's been a while since I posted so I thought I'd share some thoughts on recent viewings. Warning: these reviews definitely contain spoilers. 

1. Attack on Titan is back! At long last fans are sinking their teeth into the long awaited season 2. I think I need to re-watch the first season to refresh my memory because it has been SO LONG. The new season kicks off flawlessly from where the previous season ended and didn't miss a beat, but in classic Attack on Titan style, the new episodes raise more questions than they answer. Things are fast-paced and tense and I have spent every episode so far fearing for each character's life (I was so scared for Sasha in the episode she featured in). After the big reveal about Ymir in the most recent episode, we're all taking guesses on which beloved character will be revealed to be a titan next. My friends and I are all in agreement over one thing; the beast titan makes us very, very uncomfortable and it has way too much power and autonomy for a titan. I am eager for the next episode, but I am sure this season will end all too soon.

2. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Sunday night with my partner and some friends from uni (triple date!). I loved the first Guardians movie, but I have learned not to put too much faith in sequels. It wasn't terrible, but it nowhere near lived up to the first movie. Some of the humour was uncomfortably forces, even for satire, and there wasn't enough time devoted to building relationships between the characters, especially Peter and Ego. I did love the heavier themes the film touched on, such as the discovery that Ego had spawned many children in an attempt to create another being who could harness the power of a Celestial, and the fate all those who came before Peter had met. And a well-deserved audible gasp went to the revelation that he had given Peter's mother the tumour that ended her life. Yondu's character development and heroic redemption at the end was heartbreaking and brilliant and I can't pick a favourite character between him and Drax.

3. My partner's parents got us tickets to see the musical The Book of Mormon for Christmas and our session was earlier this week. Great seats, not far from the front, but by God the Princess Theatre needs to renovate--it's a mile drop into your fold-down chair and you may as well introduce yourself to anyone who needs to get past you to get to their own seat because you can't fit two people past each other without rubbing up the whole length of each other. It is uncomfortable to say the least. But the show itself: that was spectacular. A satirical musical about Mormon Missionaries in Uganda, it pokes honest fun at evangelism and cultural stigmas alike, with songs like 'Hello' and 'Hasa Diga Eebowai'. The cultural stigma related humour was especially uncomfortable, but the musical was unapologetic in its portrayal of confronting matters, illustrating the uselessness of slamming religion down the throats of those trying to deal with horrific circumstances when it doesn't help in any material sense. However, the conclusion which saw the Ugandan villagers find hope in Elder Arnold Cunningham's ... imaginative retelling of The Book of Mormon, based on metaphors involving frogs and Star Wars references, indicated that in times of need people are capable of opening up to advice they wouldn't normally take if they think it might help them through. In this case, the production ended with a reprise of the opening song, 'Hello', but instead of preaching The Book of Mormon, the characters were sharing The Book of Arnold. Overall, quite enjoyable and I haven't been to the theatre in far too long.

I hope you enjoyed these little reviews. Have you seen Attack on Titan, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or The Book of Mormon? What were your thoughts? 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Inner Editor

In my current call centre job, I am not doing the things I wanted to be doing post-degree. But little editing things keep finding their way into my job. 

Last week, one of the girls was trying to find a customer's record and they told her they had a hyphenated surname. She placed them on hold and leaned over to ask me, 'Is this one a hyphen?'

She was using an apostrophe. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

When I showed her where the hyphen was on the keyboard, she said 'But that one is a dash!' I explained that hyphens are a type of dash and forced myself not to talk about en-dashes and em-dashes. Not everyone I interact with is an editor with extensive knowledge of punctuation standards, and that's okay. If it wasn't,  the job I am searching for would not exist.

The second thing at work I keep thinking about is how poorly worded some of our communications letters are. We keep getting confused customers ringing in because 'What do you mean I won't be covered after *insert date*?!' No, no, it just means that is when you are paid up until, you'll be covered after that as long as you pay your next bill. Sorry for the confusion. 

The new year at university kicks in this coming week and I am taking the editing unit online while I work. I guess I have made the right choice in doing that unit first, and hopefully I can get a job that utilises my editing skills properly sooner rather than later. 

How are you all going? 

- Bonnee.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Research and search and search

Week four of my new full time job at a call center has come to a close, and the weekend is leaving no room for rest. The job is nothing glamorous, but also not so stressful once you push past the initial anxiety of dealing with customers over the phone. It's still exhausting, staring at the computer screen all day and getting used to the hours after the summer of unemployment. The people I work with are the best part of the job though. I think I'm really lucky to have ended up as part of a such a diverse, friendly bunch of co-workers. The management team are all pretty cool too. 

The research paper I have been working on is due on 1st March. Do you think my eyes have had the capacity to stay open after work, not to mention focus on words, which my sleepy head then has to try to string together and make sense of? (Hint: the answer is no.) Nevertheless, I've had to kick myself back into gear on the research front this week while my co-writer and I redraft and add to what we have. Less than two weeks to go. My least-favourite part of this is referencing. I'm a natural at Harvard, and my co-writer is fluent in MLA, which means we've both been referencing as we write. The publication we're submitting to uses Chicago notes and bib style, so we have to do a referencing overhaul soon. 

Meanwhile, I'm searching for time to do other things. Especially reading and writing. And socialising. I miss my friends, and the ease of meeting up when we didn't have conflicting work rosters. I had a chance to catch up with a few of them a couple of weeks ago at a book launch. A friend from uni, who is currently doing their PhD, had a novel published through Echo Publishing at the start of this year. I've managed to squeeze in the first few chapters, and can already tell you it's a great read. Go pick up a copy of Ida by Alison Evans! Now! 

Shortly, I will also be searching for a new place to rent, as the lease for the shoe box I'm currently residing in is ending in a few months. There is no way are we sticking around for another year to see if it will fall on us. The landlord has already given notice that the house is going to be demolished in the coming years and they're going to subdivide the property instead. I wonder where I'll find time to go to house inspections and move my stuff. 


What have you been researching/searching for this week? 
Bonnee. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

2016: A Year in Short Reviews

A bit late to the table, but I thought it would be nice to do a wrap-up of the books I read (or tried to read) in 2016, specifically because I finished two of them just this month.


Never Let Me Go / Kazuo Ishiguro
Status: incomplete
I was supposed to read this for a class in first trimester, but I never got around to finishing it because I was house-hunting/moving and chose a different text for my main assignment. From what little I read, I want to restart it and finish it in my own time. There was some interesting characterisation and the text dealt with some pretty heavy topics (organ-farming, anyone?).





Black and White / David Macaulay
Status: finished (more than once!)
Another one for class. I love a good picture book. This was so clever, and every time I re-read it I would notice new things. I think it's one of the most fun picture books I've ever read as far as piecing the different components of the story together goes.






One Hundred Demons / Lynda Barry
Status: incomplete
I focused on specific parts of this graphic novel, again for class. This example of 'autobifictionalography' consists of segments of the author's life which deal with personal demons. Again, some very heavy topics were covered and I cried at some point when reading the section called 'Resilience' after it struck a little too close to home. This is another one I want to go back and read in its entirety in my own time.


The Turning / Tim Winton
Status: complete
Another one for class. This is a collection of short stories by an Australian author, exploring the turning points in the lives on its characters. Exploring themes of love, loss, betrayal, and family (just to name a few), it was really interested to see how the characters were connected from one story to the next. Once again, heavy themes (I hated reading it at times).





Plains of Promise / Alexis Wright
Status: complete
For class, again. Another Australian story, this time by an Indigenous author. This novel traces the horrific treatment of Aboriginal people by white colonists, starting with St Dominic's Mission and a girl named Ivy. Along with the explicit depictions of racism, the novel also deals with suicide, sexual abuse, and the loss of identity. It also gave insight into Aboriginal spirituality and the meaning of family and community. As a decedent of European settlers, I tried my best to read this with an open mind, and I am deeply ashamed to think that the story depicted was likely true for many First Nation people (and, at least to an extent, still is).


The Dressmaker / Rosalie Ham
Status: complete
I started reading this one late in 2015 after watching the film, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth. The book is vastly different to the film, more than I was anticipating. To be honest, I didn't like it. The writing felt disjointed and while it dealt with heavy themes, it made me cringe in a way that made me decide I wasn't happy with how those themes were dealt with. However, it was very well researched and the book gave detailed insight into the specifics of fabrics, fashion styles, and sewing, which the movie couldn't communicate in the same way. I powered through and finally finished it this month, but overall it was just okay.


Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 / Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Status: complete
My bestie secretly told my bf that he should buy it for me and I came home one day to find a hardcover copy sitting on my desk and I freaked out a little. I had been looking forward to it since I saw one of the authors talking about it at a writers event earlier in the year. I dug into it as soon as I finished my Honours thesis and finished it a week or so ago. Oh. My. God. Please go and read this book. 
When megacorporation BeiTech attempts to eliminate a competitor, a planet on the edge of the universe is targeted and a fleet of survivors consisting of three space vessels make an escape, with the enemy ship, the Lincoln, in hot pursuit. The story follows Kady (aboard the Hypatia) and Ezra (aboard the Alexander) as the fleet tries to reach safety and outrun the Lincoln. But a plague has broken out on the third space vessel, the Copernicus, the AI that controls the Alexander has gone rogue, and the Lincoln is hot on their tail. Uh-oh! But wait; there's more! This novel dares to push the medium, serving up the story in a dossier of interview transcripts, IMs, emails, military docs, medical docs, diary entries, and surveillance footage summaries (among other things). Overall, it's a rollercoaster, and I loved it. Cannot wait to read the sequel.

It wasn't the most dedicated year of reading for me, and admittedly I never get around to reading as much as I want to. But I hope these little summaries will make you add something to your reading list.

Have you read any of these books? 
Bonnee.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Great Escape

I was having one of those days yesterday where everything was just overwhelming and I was too agitated and anxious to get anything productive done. Job searching, writing a research paper, editing—take your pick, yesterday it was too hard.

After refreshing my Facebook feed more times than I care to admit, and staring at a blank document for too long, I decided to find something to distract myself. I was about halfway through reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and quite enjoying it, but I hadn't picked it up for a while.

Sure enough, within a few pages, I was feeling much calmer. Less restless. Lost in the pages while watching a certain Astro-Princess be awesome while an AI dropped a heavy as hell plot twist.

It's a really interesting book and it really pushes the medium. The story is mostly composed of transcripts, chat logs, and reports, with a few other bits and pieces thrown in which I won't specify in case of spoilers. Up until that hella plot twist, it was just the right amount of funny to balance out the serious shit. Now it's gotten funny in a much darker way and TBH I'm still recovering.

I am glad that books are a thing and it's possible to just escape the world by reading when it all gets too much.

What is your favourite book to escape with? 

- Bonnee.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Drafts from the past

Today I stumbled upon this annual opportunity with Text Publishing, The Tenth Annual Text Prize, which is taking submissions targeted at children and young adults until 3 February. I am not hopeful, but I thought it would provide some motivation for me to dust off an old manuscript and edit with a goal in mind. 

So I opened my NaNoWriMo project from 2013 for the first time since I last edited it in September 2014. And, yikes. Cringe. I've got a lot of work to do. I would like to think that my writing has come a long way since I first typed out WALLS, but I guess there's a chance I am still as terrible at writing now as I feel I was looking back at that manuscript. 

I am also still job-hunting like a headless chook and working on an academic paper that's due at the end of January, so in all honesty, it's very unlikely I will have edited all 85K+ words of WALLS to the point where I'd be happy to submit it anywhere by the early February deadline. At least I have made a start, and maybe this will get the ball rolling for me again properly. 

Happy New Year. What are you working on? 
Bonnee. 

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