Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Christchurch City Centre

I went in to the Christchurch CBD today to run an errand. I bussed into the temporary bus terminal, and then walked a few blocks.

It was . . . weird.

When I first got there I thought 'Damn! I should have brought my camera!' But as I walked, I realised that I didn't need it after all. There's not much point in taking pictures of empty lots.

The part of town that you can walk through is the part of town that, apart from insurance issues, has been cleared already. On one block along Colombo Street there is nothing at all standing on one side of the road. I couldn't remember what used to be there. On the other side of the road, two buildings of about twelve are left.

To the north of where I was is the extant Red Zone. Partially deconstructed high-rises are draped in shielding cloth, keeping debris from falling too far from the buildings. Cranes rear into the air, like witches fingers or the legs of dead insects. You can hear the deconstruction – booms, and bangs, and things falling. The noises echo through the crumbling canyons of the city.

And then you walk into a shop, and inside everything is as it was, and you forget for a few minutes about the graveyard around you.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Florence has a TARDIS, and has read my book already

I haven't been keeping up with modern popular music. I tend to listen either to old classics (I've been listening to a lot of Link Wray recently), or I listen to current indie music (Amanda Palmer, Tom Dickins, Zoe Keating, SJ Tucker, etc.). So I hope you'll forgive me for only just discovering Florence + the Machine. Well, actually, I remember coming across their song 'Dog Days Are Over' the other year, but I wasn't all that fond of it, and I didn't look up any of their other music. Well, it seems that I like everything else they've done, so foolish me.

Today I found this:

You know how sometimes you find a song, or a book, or a painting, and it speaks directly to something that is in your own mind? If you are a creative person, you may have even experienced finding someone else's creation speaking to one of your own. That's my experience of this song. It reminds me of my own WIP, Symmetry Breaking. I don't know what Florence Welch was thinking of when she wrote it, but in the lyrics I hear echoes of my own story. Goodness, Florence Welch even looks like my protagonist.

That's one of the things I love most about art: that each person who comes across a piece of art experiences it in their own way, and finds their own meaning. It's the closest thing we have to telepathy.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Random photo: Brisbane by night

Brisbane by night – March 2011

Why am I posting photos not words? Because I am sick. Why I am sick? Because I'm on holiday. It happens every time.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

We are the media

Tom is an inspirational independent musician from Melbourne. I heard about him through listening to and following Amanda Palmer. Tom's "F**ck Plan B" movement inspired me, and it's one of the reasons why I am trying so hard at this whole writing thing at the moment.

I love Tom's music, and I'm proud to support his album.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Book review: Empire

Empire: How Britain Made The Modern WorldEmpire: How Britain Made The Modern World by Niall Ferguson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the version of this book, sold under the name Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order.

The information that is present is informative and well-presented. There were, however, notable omissions: he glossed over the indignities suffered by subjugated races a little too quickly in some places; and from his coverage of the Victorian period onwards, he was very obviously biased in his pro-British viewpoint, to the exclusion of other viewpoints.

All in all, I learned a lot from this book, and in the future I will look for other texts to fill in the gaps that Ferguson left.

View all my reviews


You know what is hard? Pushing on with the first draft of a novel, and keeping up with blog posts as well.

You know what else is hard? Pushing on with the first draft of a novel and having more than 40% brain power to dedicate to any other task at all.

I'm so scatty at the moment. I've made some serious flubs recently. Oh well.

If you take a look over to the right you'll see that I'm about 43,000 words into my novel. I currently have a final target of 95,000 words for the project, but I think it is going to be shorter than that in the end, at least for the first draft. I am a chapter past what feels like the mid-way point. I was afraid that my pace would slow down, or even halt, when I got to the middle. Maybe I did slow down a little. But I'm still going, and I haven't struck a writer's block yet, which is excellent. I think I did just the right amount of outlining for this project.

It feels great to be doing this, not just saying that I want to do it.

I guess that would be my advice to other aspiring writers at the moment. Get your butt in that chair, and get writing. And I know everyone else says the same thing. But there's a reason cliches become cliches.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Avengers

We went to see The Avengers on Saturday night. For those not yet aware (perhaps because they are under a rock, or have zero interest in superhero movies), The Avengers is an ensemble movie with The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Black Widow teaming up to save the world. Oops, sorry, Hawk Eye was there too. The awesome thing about this particular superhero movie? It was written and directed by Joss Whedon. That's right, a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster with the man responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly at the helm.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my thoughts on the movie:

  • Joss Whedon is one of the funniest scriptwriters around. This is one seriously funny movie, with many laugh-out-loud moments. And, wonders upon wonders, they weren't all in the trailer!
  • As a non-American, I don't generally identify with Captain America. But a guy lost in a totally different time period and not understanding the world he now lives in? I could almost sympathise with that guy, if he wasn't an Aryan male wearing an American flag.
  • It doesn't bother me that Thor is also of the Aryan male stereotype. Because he is a Viking, and Vikings are cool.
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joss, for not making the woman be totally kick-ass right up until she suddenly wasn't and had to be saved by the male hero (Tron: Legacy, I'm looking at you in particular). Instead, Black Widow got to be kick-ass right to the end of the movie. And tricksy. So tricksy.
  • Speaking of Black Widow, I'm not a huge fan of Scarlett Johanssen, but I like her work in this movie.
  • And speaking of strong female characters, I like how the kick-ass woman is not the only example of strength in a female character in this movie. We also have the strong professional woman (the agent - I think her name is Maria?). And of course, we have Gwyneth Paltrow's rendition of Pepper Potts. In The Avengers, even though Pepper Potts has nothing even approaching a combative role, she comes across just as strong as the other women. Anyone who can manage Tony Stark so well, while simultaneously pulling most of the weight in his company, and remain true to herself while doing it (i.e. not just being the unquestioning female assistant) has some serious strength of character.
  • Despite all the examples of strong women, I'm disappointed that this Joss Whedon project technically fails the Bechdel Test. Because even though there are multiple strong female characters, they never get around to talking to one another, let alone about something other than a man. Hopefully this will be rectified in The Avengers 2.
  • Hulk? Smash!
  • Kill the Mothership and all the aliens fall down? Seriously? It was silly when it happened in Independence Day. This, and a computer virus being transmitted by arrow, were my two main problems with the plot.
  • Thor didn't visit Jane while he was on Earth! I guess Natalie Portman was too expensive to hire for a scene or two only. But, still. Thor, you naughty boy.
  • I still don't want to see the Captain America movie.
  • I can't wait to see what Joss Whedon will do with his new blockbuster-director clout. Seriously, looking at the numbers, this movie is going to be one of the biggest of all time. It will challenge Avatar. Which means that now Joss can do whatever he wants and the studios will line up to back him. To me, that is the most exciting thing about The Avengers.