Keep At It

Today marks the second day of March. 2017 really is flying by like a breeze – but we say that almost every year. Anyway congratulations for surviving this long and if you’re still committed to your New Years resolutions, I applaud you.

My unspoken resolution this year was to create more. So far I think I’ve done a subpar job at keeping my YouTube alive, mostly because of the nitpicking but one thing is, thankfully, remaining constant; writing. I’ve been writing a great deal, whether it be scripts, ideas, or just random word vomits like this, I’ve just been writing consistently.

But one thing I realised was that the art of writing, especially online, is pretty much dying.

Why is blogging a dying art?

I was having a conversation about this a few weeks ago. It’s disheartening to realise most of my favourite bloggers have stopped a few years back. It’s a sad feat we have to come to terms with sooner or later, what with the presence of online videos where everything can be condensed into visually appealing 5-minute shorts. Why read when you can watch, am I right?

I know a lot of people who used to write. Used to. And I know people who still do, still keep blogs and still update once in a while.

My message to you is; please keep on writing. Please publish your words and make them known because you should never settle for fragments of your happiest memories trying to recall them. Write about them because words make you feel, words are powerful things, even more than pictures. It’s fluid and abstract but can be rigid and specific. Words mould the shape of our thoughts into what it wants to be.

 Keep writing, and people will keep reading. I will keep reading. Share me your thoughts, your hopes and fears, everything. 

Niche

Find your niche.

Stick with it and begin your journey. Create.

Mould it into art and nurture it with your mind, body and soul.

One day, when you have polished away the last remnant of its flaw with your bare, calloused hand, it will be ready.

The world will marvel at its beauty, its complexity, because this is where your heart is. You live in this creation. Only you.

Only you will be able to tell the stories that come with the scars, the little imperfections, the quirks of this masterpiece.

Only you will appreciate the entirety of this creation.

Only you will be able to see it as it should be. The vision that comes with, while some may empathise, can only conjure their version of your reality.

Only you can create this.

So savour it and take it all in.

Find a niche and begin creating. Every day.

 

First Impressions: Riverdale

First Impressions: Riverdale

Disclaimer: I’ll probably be nitpicking. A lot. Especially on the characters since they’re the only ties to the original comic (also I’m a sucker for comparisons). There WILL BE SPOILERS sort of. If you see red sentences, skip them.

Or you can just keep on reading. I won’t tell you how to live your life, I barely know how to live mine.

Also, this opinion piece is exactly that; an opinion from a person who, by the way, has stopped reading Archie since 2010 (because it got way too expensive – wtf is that all about) but still carry a huge load of love for these characters.

When I first heard that CW would be releasing a drama based on the Archie Comics, my heart fluttered in excitement for a brief second – before plummeting to the bottom of my stomach. Hard.

Well, no. That was an over-dramatisation (while we’re on the subject of drama). I was, however, skeptical because for a while, it was infamously known that existing fictional YA worlds were being transformed to live-action series, then spun into angsty, teenage drama whereby they would milk the last remnants of whatever cliche plots and dialogues they could conjure up that hadn’t been done already and finally reducing what once was a story with purpose to a bunch of teenagers banging each other in the end.

I didn’t put high hopes for Riverdale but a part of me wanted badly for this series to turn out like I’d pictured it would. Ask anyone of any age whether they’d read the Archie Comics. More than half the time, you’d get a yes. Or at least a vague mumble between ‘perhaps’ to ‘might recall it’ depending on the age of the person you’re asking. Point being; this was a classic pop culture piece people of all ages have enjoyed in the last 75 years. It was iconic. I, myself, had hoarded quite a collection growing up so this was a part of my childhood and ideally, I wished it could’ve gone the way I wanted it.

Anyway, I’m digressing. First impressions after watching the first episode:

I hadn’t expected it to be as dark.

The story starts with the death of Jason Blossom. Cheryl, his fraternal twin had lost him while they were out for a boat ride – when he slipped and drowned in the water. However, it was later revealed to be a murder due to the gunshot wound on his forehead – but who killed him and why?

So this is pretty much the premise of the plot. It is centred around the mystery behind Jason’s death and each character’s relations to his murder. Something like that.

Personally, I didn’t care much for the plot. I thought it was good but not that interesting enough to captivate an audience – or me at least, but that didn’t stop me from watching the next three episodes that were already out.

Character-wise, I have very mixed feelings.

Our ma’fakin Starboy Archie was quite the surprise. Forget the ginger-haired, freckle-faced cutie with the motor skills of a five year-old like in the comics, this Archie successfully crushed that boy-next-door stereotype and adopted a slightly naughtier and more rebellious persona when he bared his ripped body and moderately nefarious attitude.

but what takes the cake is his scandalous affair with Ms Grundy.

It wasn’t that traumatising but this was really something. The whole reveal was just unbearably cringy and so, so difficult to digest. I just cringed every time there was a scene of the both of them being together.

BUT BUT BUT. Before you imagine Archie with a 50-something year-old lady, Ms Grundy was portrayed here as a young, hot blonde who doesn’t have a grey hair or wrinkle in sight. Despite the fact that Archie (and the rest of the students in Riverdale) look old enough to own a college degree, he was still 16 in the series. So not only was Ms Grundy an excellent double bass player and music instructor, but she also has an affinity for underaged kids. I mean how else are you supposed to keep yourself young and rejuvenated, am I right?

Of course, the cringefest only lasted for about 3 episodes because it was later revealed in the 4th that this Ms Grundy wasn’t the Ms Grundy. Relief? Yes. Such a relief but the thought will still haunt me forever. Also, despite whoever this lady was, she was still sleeping with a minor. That’s still there.

Betty’s introduction was the most predictable; there was no way you can fuck up Riverdale’s sweetheart but there was a slightly pleasant twist to her. From a history of family breakdowns to the reveal of Betty’s dark side (and it gets real dark), I’m liking this rendition. She’s not as preppy and cheerful as she is in the comics which adds a touch of reality in her character.

Veronica is probably my favourite at the moment. She was portrayed as the new kid from New York, arriving in Riverdale in hopes to bury the scandal surrounding her father’s notoriety and live a normal teenage life. Veronica’s character is an interesting crossover between being a snooty bitch (dropping classic literary references every two to three sentences) to being a bad girl gone good – and I mean really, properly good. She even successfully eliminated the ~iconic~ love triangle between her, Archie and Betty in the first two episodes (but something tells me this won’t be the last time we’ll hear of it). I like the dynamic that she presents when with the others – especially with Cheryl Blossom, when her New Yorker side comes out. I live for her wit. Very pleasantly surprised at how well her character is executed.

The only disappointing character is Jughead (purely from the comic-to-live action comparison standpoint), which is such a bummer because he has always been my favourite. The resident joker with a never-ending appetite; who can resist the scrawny teenager with a black hole for a stomach? However, in the series, he was portrayed as the token film geek who was in the midst of writing a screenplay based on the events that happened in Riverdale. Honestly speaking, I’m not a fan of this Jughead mostly because I can’t see him being broody and dressed in all black . Also, the most unforgivable trait – he never eats. I saw him eat probably once in an episode and even then, comic Jughead would have a fit seeing how little he was eating. How dare??

He also wasn’t exactly friends with Archie so my dream of them being the Starsky and Hutch of Riverdale kind of flew out the window.

(PS: he’s played by Cole Sprouse – who, I’m sorry to say – really showed that he hasn’t acted in a while. Cringey.)

But I do have to say, the female characters are written so beautifully in this series. From Cheryl Blossom’s – albeit intolerable – Regina George-esque attitude to the powerful messages delivered by Josie and the Pussycats on the struggles of PoC, I’m living for the female empowerment and the portrayal of modern, contemporary women in this show. That’s a huge thing I’d like to highlight.

Where are the parents though????

Okay, really. It was interesting to note how their parents seemed to be so out of touch with their own children, almost as if they didn’t really give a crap about whatever their kids were up to if it didn’t serve any purpose to them.

For example; Betty’s mother only cares about the kind of friends her daughter associates herself with – constantly barraging her with negative insinuations about Archie and Veronica or pretty much anyone else Betty tries to get close to but brushes off any form of conversation that can lead to negotiation or – God forbid – affection.

Maybe this is nitpicking at its finest, especially character-wise but I can’t help it. To be fair, it is only the fourth episode.

I took the series in its entirety and wrote a first impression on that. Here’s the thing, all in all, it was subpar, average at best with cringe-worthy acting and horribly executed dialogues but for a debut series, I think it looks promising enough to have more than one season… hopefully. I still have a hard time disassociating these characters from their comic counterparts but at the same time, that’s really the only reason why I’m still watching and I’m pretty sure a lot of people are holding on to the same reason. I hope the episodes get better since the one writing this is Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; chief creative officer of Archie Comics itself so maybe, just maybe it will get interesting with the episodes to come. I’ll still be following this series because there’s a much bigger picture that I’d like to get a view of… so I’ll stick with it for now.

Review: Night People – You Me At Six

ymas

This is an ode to my 16 year-old self who had taken this band, incorporated them into her life and made it part of her musical preference identity (if there is such a thing).

If you were a fan of Paramore, you’d also have been a fan of You Me At Six – or at least heard of them because of their tight affiliations.

I, like many girls who treated Hot Topic as their H&M, was a huge fan back when I was in my teens. From time to time, I kept track of them but sort of lost interest after Sinners Never Sleep (which is still one of my favourite albums of all time regardless of age or ‘musical maturity’ – whatever the fuck). In 2014, You Me At Six (YMAS) released Cavalier Youth. During the time, I was teetering on the edges between loving and hating it but settled for indifference. It was a solid album but nothing compared to its predecessor in my – very – personal opinion. However, like I said, it was good, it was You Me At Six.

Now, fast forward to three years later, they’ve released a new full-length album called Night People. Bear in mind, this was after a 3-year gap of vagueness. No EPs, save for a few singles in 2016. Even though I’d lost interest in their stuff, I was still following them on Twitter so when they dropped the bomb that a new album was about to come out, curiosity got the better of me. I mean why not? The fact that this band had been with me for the good part of my teenage years warrants this curiosity, this sort of longing hopefulness that they would put up another album and indirectly inform those who’ve been with them since their 2008 debut; Take Off Your Colours they’re still here, still making music.

Before I go further, I will preface this by saying it’ll be a completely biased review based on my personal take on the band but the conclusion will be from a neutral standpoint (if I can manage that). Here goes.

I listened to this with no expectation in mind save for the curiosity on how their new album would sound like compared to the previous ones. Now, this is strictly based on a first-time listen and I was met with slight disappointment. The lacklustre production quality mixed together with the same old YMAS vibe just left me with a painful grimace. Here is a band who clearly has not…. grown… with the times. It was as if they were adamant on keeping the same-aged range fanbase throughout their entire career – which, is all too fine if that’s what they’re aiming at but for longtime fans, or people who’ve known them since the very beginning, this album certainly hasn’t wow-ed us. It doesn’t have the essence of growth and maturity that comes with years of making music.

It was as if – and forgive me for being crass – they’ve thrown in shitty riffs and tried to fit in as many verses/words as they could into the song progression. It was just bad overall. Now, YMAS is well-known to do that. This disastrous feat is common and shared amongst others like Sleeping With Sirens but with YMAS, it was a hit or miss. Sometimes they fit and sometimes they’re bad but it is always present. In this album, it was as if they couldn’t give two shits about the composition and jumped straight to devising ways to make the chorus catchy. Even the slow songs didn’t evoke any nostalgia like I thought they would.

Night People is akin to stale bread, it’s bland, reused and recycled from the same source just churned out into multiple variations. I’m sad because I’d expected more from them, especially after 2 years of working on this album.

But I promised an unbiased review so here goes – production quality is subpar, I have to say. The songs are repetitive and generally sound the same but Josh Franceschi’s voice is still a prominent feature that was dearly missed by the fans,despite the rawness and lack of perfectly clean vocals (maybe then again, this was intentional). I have also fallen into that chasm of longing to listen to him sing some new songs. I did enjoy Take On The World and it’s probably my favourite song off of this album.

All in all, there is nothing relatively special about Night People. It still bears the same You Me At Six trademark, distinctly so, and to fans who expect nothing less and nothing more, this is perfect for you. However, to those who had expected change in sound, sad to say this will disappoint. A good 3 out of 5 at most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Favourite Reads

Burned Alive by Souad.

This book depicts the terrible cruelty of honour killings and the questionable practices present among certain tribes. Written in a first-person POV, this book shares the journey of Souad, a woman from the West Bank who was burned alive by her own brother in-law but escaped death thanks to Jacqueline; a European humanitarian, who nursed her back to health.

The book is split into two parts; Souad’s and Jacqueline’s. The first and major part was that of Souad’s story, where she described the horrible conditions that women were subjected to live in. They were considered “less than animals, because animals bring profit and women bring nothing but trouble” – a paraphrased quote from Souad’s own father was enough to establish the cruelty women endure on a daily basis.

The language used was fairly straightforward and it didn’t take me long to finish but it was mostly due to the story being so… intense.

Sadly though, this isn’t a true memoir and it’s undetermined whether the content is fictional or not but I loved it nonetheless. It opened my eyes to the horrific practices that are still prevalent in some parts of the world. It made me more aware of the different cultures and how they interpret and practice religion. A good read if you’ve got a few days to spare.

You can find it on GoodReads here.

Crank Trilogy by Ellen Hopkins

This YA trilogy tells the story of Kristina, a crystal meth addict. She is closely based on the author’s own daughter who also shares the same addiction. The first book introduces Kristina’s tumultuous relationship with the ‘monster’ that she first encountered when she met a boy during her summer visit to her no-good father. It was during this phase that she discovered her alter-ego, Bree, when she was under the influence of the drug.

The second book follows up with Kristina’s attempt to rehabilitate herself from the drug and her journey towards recovery. Nevertheless, it failed miserably and she went back to her old ways, sinking even lower than before.

The last book is the most captivating because it was told from Kristina’s children’s POV, who described the psychological baggage that came with being born from an addict. This book left a powerful message and was worded very differently from the first two. Kristina’s roller coaster of a life as a mother was revealed in snippets by each child who had their own fair share of things to say about her.

Easily, this trilogy is my favourite YA series to read this year. I remember seeing Crank multiple times in bookstores but never bothered to pick it up (probably because it didn’t have a picture of a fucking vampire or some shit). I think it’s a little sad that I’ve only just discovered this book earlier this year because it could’ve been a much more enjoyable read if I’d been a teenager. However, I do have to caution that the overall ending will leave a bad taste in your mouth. To me, it’s all because of Kristina. She is the most infuriating main character I’ve ever encountered, to be honest. Still, loved it.

GoodReads link

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I know, I’m very late to the party.

This book tells the story of Esther Greenwood who seemed to have her life all sorted out but was slowly descending into madness. Written from a first person POV, Esther described her mental state through crisp, monotonous monologues that sometimes came across as pretentious. However, the deeper you get into the book, the more you get used to it because you start to understand Esther’s thought process. The way she described her multiple suicide attempts were very blasé and that was quite unsettling to read, to be honest.

I won’t say I enjoyed the experience of reading the book but it was deeply moving to step into Esther’s mind and watch her spiral into madness. It’s one of those books that is undeniably great but will not be reread immediately after. It’s a heavy book and took me a while to finish because of its writing style. This book is swimming in issues that not most would want to talk about – especially women. As I’m typing this, I’m considering reading it again. Maybe I’ll go out and buy the physical copy for that ultimate satisfaction.

GoodReads


That’s that. Hasn’t been a great year for reading but better than the previous. Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to read more books. Strive to read 100. Be that overachiever I’ve always feared to be.

Or I could stick to online articles because that seems to be my reading fix.

We’ll see.

With Conviction

There is very little that I care for in this world.

‘Care’ – or caring – in a sense that I take something very seriously, to trust and follow its nature wholly until no obstacle can pose as a threat. Whether it be an idea or inspiration; if it feels right to me, I go full throttle.

For the longest time, I’ve always thought I cared too much – but I was struck by a small epiphany that I’ve foolishly mistaken caring for simply being in a constant state of crippling anxiety.

My relationship with anxiety and fear have always gotten the best of me. They jumble up my emotions, my perception of situations, and fuck up my internal assessment.

Deep seated issues aside, caring about something is the very foundation of one’s passion. How much do you care about cooking, for example, to make it your ambition? How far are you willing to go to satiate your craving for self fulfilment?

I remember having a conversation with my colleague who doubled as a frontman in a band. He was giving me an insight on the cost of living as a musician.

“We get paid a certain amount to play shows – and most of the time it’s a laughable amount. Most of the money goes to transportation, rental, and other stuff. Whatever that’s left goes back to the band’s fund. Sometimes if we play shows far away, and accommodation isn’t provided, we have to fork out our own money to get by.”

So then why do you do it? Why go through all that? Waste so much money? Agree to play gigs so far away? Subject yourself to all these inconveniences?

“Well, everyone has their hobbies. This is mine.”

A humbling answer that took me by surprise. I realised then that the worst torture people voluntarily put themselves through isn’t some act of heroism that they want the world to acknowledge, merely the trials that come with what they choose to pursue. Getting over those obstacles count as an accomplishment and accomplishments fuel people up with more motivation to keep going despite what hurdle may come. It’s a wonderfully complex and exciting cycle.

You might be thinking that this is one of those obvious realisations and I’d be too stupid to treat it as a newfound discovery but you should also understand that many things we know have absolutely no substantial meaning/weight until something inside us clicks; an instinctual mechanism that’s locked itself in, kind of like fitting that last piece of a small puzzle. Deeply satisfying.

An epiphany is a visceral knowledge of something we already know.

These are two epiphanies I’m glad struck me. Now I’m unraveling a new puzzle; what is it that makes me care? What can I fill my time with that is important to me? What is it in my life that makes me want to pursue with doubtless conviction?

I guess part of the excitement is finding that out. So. We’ll see!