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? 

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? 

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? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gift Ideas for Your Writer Friends

It could be for a birthday, or for Christmas, or a housewarming. At any time of year, there may be an occasion where you need a good gift idea for a writer in your life. It might be a little easier for writers to shop for other writers, but in case any non-writers are out there thinking of gift ideas for their writerly loved-ones, here are some suggestions.

1. Notebooks 

This might seem lame at first, but think outside the box. What does the writer in your life like? Colours? Paterns? Animals? Notebooks come in all shapes and sizes if you know where to look. Here are some of the gems in my collection. 

I prefer to take A4 notebooks to uni or if I'm writing a story by hand, but I also like a notebook that pops. Typo always has great notebooks with funky colours and patterns and quotes. Here's one with shiny pineapples. 

This little guy was a gift from a few years back. My partner found it on Etsy and it's perfect for jotting down little one-liners and ideas. Look out little it is next to my hand!

I got this one for myself earlier in the year when I saw it at Officeworks. The cover is made of wood, with an owl stenciled into it with hot pink card attached to the other side to make it pop, and the branch has a bumpy texture too. I haven't decided what to use this one for yet. Possibly a little writing reflection journal? 

You could also turn this into a budget-friendly gift by putting it together yourself. Get something nice and sturdy for the cover and some craft glue to put the pages in, or if you're feeling super crafty, stitch it together! Mix up the paper you include inside, with some lined, some blank, some grid paper—look for different textures and patterns to make it unique. If you're a bit arty, you could design the cover yourself, or you could decorate it with some funky book coverings. 

2. Stationary.

A lot of writers use a computer these days, but that doesn't stop us carrying around a notebook. And if we have notebooks, we need pens, and possibly other stationary. So get your writer friend some colourful, good quality ball-point pens or gel pens, depending what you think they might be into. Or get them a gift card for their favourite stationary shop, like Smiggle. Typo also does some funky stationary, with novelty pens galore. Personally, I have more pens than I have room for in my pen-jar ... but they're bloody good pens! 

3. Gift vouchers to their favourite book stores. 

People who write books almost definitely read books (and if they don't, they should!). A gift-card to the local Dymocks or Readings store, or their favourite specialty book store, will never go astray. 

4. Subscriptions to literary journals. 

I love seeing writers support other writers and the publications of their local literary industry. Find out what magazines or journals your writer friend might be interested in—just make sure they don't already have that subscription! 

Pro tip: Keep an eye out for subscribe-a-thons; I subscribed to 6 Australian literary journals in October, who were all participating in a discounted joint-membership deal. 

5. Memberships to a writers group or organisation. 

Writing groups and organisations give the opportunity to engage with a wider writing community. Whether it be the writers club at your university, or your state's primary writing organisation—if your writer friend isn't already a member, and you think they'd like to be, sign them up. 

You all know I ran a writers club at my university for a couple of years there. I'm also a member of Writers Victoria, and would never want to stop being a member with them because they run so many excellent events all the time. 

6. Tickets to a workshop, reading, or other writerly event. 

Sometimes, writing groups and organisations run events. Or your local literary festival is just around the corner, and you know your friend would like to go to one of the workshops or attend a certain author's reading. Maybe you could even find something you'll both enjoy and go together! This year I saw Jeanette Winterson read an excerpt from her novel The Gap of Time, following by an entertaining question time at the end. 

7. Send them to a writers retreat. 

If you've got the room to spend big, research writers retreats or residencies that your writerly friend might be interested in. For example, some of the cells at the Old Melbourne Gaol can be hired out as writers' studios, which I think is pretty great and would definitely like to try some time. Maybe the writer in your life would prefer a cabin in a forest, or a little house overlooking the sea. 

So there are a few gift ideas for any occasion your writerly friend might be celebrating. Or if you are a writer, you could use some of these suggestions to treat yo'self. 

What are your favourite gift ideas for writers? 


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