26 February 2010

Advice to Writers


I have made little to no progress in my readings and watchings.  In the meantime, I submitted a poem to this place and will soon submit a different piece of writing to another place.


Also, I found this article while browsing around my corner of the blogosphere.  Here is the link, and here are my favorite pieces of advice from different authors.  Yes, I’m picking and choosing, but I am an avid user of “muttered” and “exclaimed” and refuse to revert to such a bland word as “said”.  Does that make me a bad writer then?


Neil Gaiman

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5 Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter

Andrew Motion

1 Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.

2 Think with your senses as well as your brain.

3 Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary.

4 Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on.

5 Remember there is no such thing as nonsense.

6 Bear in mind Wilde's dictum that "only mediocrities develop" – and challenge it.

7 Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve.

8 Think big and stay particular.

9 Write for tomorrow, not for today.

10 Work hard.

Ian Rankin

1 Read lots.

2 Write lots.

3 Learn to be self-critical.

4 Learn what criticism to accept.

5 Be persistent.

6 Have a story worth telling.

7 Don't give up.

8 Know the market.

9 Get lucky.

10 Stay lucky.

Helen Simpson

The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying "Faire et se taire" (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as "Shut up and get on with it."

Jeanette Winterson

1 Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.

2 Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.

3 Love what you do.

4 Be honest with yourself. If you are no good, accept it. If the work you are doing is no good, accept it.

5 Don't hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went in the drawer it will be just as bad when it comes out.

6 Take no notice of anyone you don't respect.

7 Take no notice of anyone with a gender agenda. A lot of men still think that women lack imagination of the fiery kind.

8 Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward.

9 Trust your creativity.

10 Enjoy this work!

22 February 2010

Weekly Update


To add a bit of order to an otherwise non-orderly blog, I decided to start a list of current reads and watches every Monday. 


Current reads:

Ariel by Steven Boyett

Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa

100 Stories of Ray Bradbury by Ray Bradbury


Recent movies:

Memories of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2006, Japan)

I Just Didn’t Do It (Masayuki Suo, 2005, Japan)

Pocahontas (Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, 1995, USA)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Gore Verbinski, 2007, USA)


Current TV Shows:

Caprica (current season)

The Big Bang Theory (season 1)

How I Met Your Mother (season 3)

Turn-A Gundam


Personal Projects:

Currently working on a piece for UW Flash Fiction

21 February 2010

Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai --- I Just Didn’t Do It (review)

Director:  Masayuki Suo

Starring:  Ryo Kase, Asaka Seto

(info from IMBD.com)


After a discussion on “artistic movies” and their lack of happy endings with good friend secret codename Herb, we went in expecting a less-than-happy ending although we were pulling for a happy ending.  Our expectations won out.


I Just Didn’t Do It is about a young man wrongly accused of groping a young girl on a train.  Because he believes he shouldn’t be punished for something he didn’t do, he waits out for a trial on the matter.  The trial is long and grueling and frightening because of Japan’s 99.9% conviction rate.  This seems like one of those movies with a political moral, particularly to point out the flaws of the Japanese justice system.  A man who is genuinely innocent cannot walk free without working his tail off to defend himself.  And even then, he is judged so harshly that he cannot walk free. 


Lesson for visiting tourists:  Don’t commit a crime.


This movie was, in a word, tedious.  Running for two hours and twenty minutes, the movie really wore on me.  I found myself checking my watch periodically.  There was also the feel that this movie would go on for a long time during the movie.  The pacing calls for a long movie because it went through all the steps that go along with a Japanese trial.  Even so, the material wasn’t that interesting to me.  I enjoyed the conversational explanations between the lawyers and the accused (I forget his name) and his friends.  They helped me, as someone unfamiliar with Japan’s law, understand what was going on.  But I wonder if an average Japanese citizens knows a lot about the law system.  If I were to make this movie, though, I would fit in those explanations too.  You can’t assume your audience knows what’s going on all the time, I guess.


The pacing was kind of slow, but it fit the narrative.  Going at a fast pace in this movie would deter from it in terms of storytelling.  As being one of the audience, I thought the pacing slow.  The writers did a good job with the suspense.  Between the court trials and the conversational explanations, there was a definite uncertainly whether the accused would get off or not.


If I were to go back and watch this movie again, I just might be bored out of my mind.  There didn’t seem to be any interesting symbolism to keep an audience’s attention.  Unless they wanted to really point to the workings of the Japanese legal system to me, I wouldn’t want to see this movie again.


Overall, this movie was long, tedious, political, and slow-paced.  A one-timer, albeit an interesting watch.  Recommended for those who want an intelligent movie.

14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Just so you know, Valentine’s Day was created so middle aged couples can rekindle their marriage for a night.  For them, they will rediscover the young love that brought them together in the first place.  Some will fail, some will succeed, and it is none of our business which happens. 


It is a holiday so people who do have someone special in their lives can find a time to celebrate it.  Granted, it is a bad sign if it is the only time it happens for those people, but they still do it.  Or for a couple who likes to celebrate random holidays.  This is the special holiday where they break out the really sappy romance things and wake up the next morning all satisfied and loved.


Valentine’s Day is a couple’s holiday, and if that excludes you, so what?  Are you upset if you don’t celebrate Christmas or Passover?  Some people don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween or Thanksgiving.  I don’t think they are too upset by it because if they were, they would take the time to celebrate it.  But I have no reason to celebrate Passover, personally, because I’m not Jewish.  And a Japanese student has no reason to celebrate Thanksgiving because they’re not American. 


So what if you’re single?  It’s not a mark against you, it’s not a mark for you.  The fact that you are single is just a description that adds to who you are at this moment in the same way your hair color helps to define who you are.  It’s just a state of being that can change at any time.  And if Valentine’s Day celebrates a state of being that you are not, then forget about it.  Don’t be hating on a holiday not meant for you. 


If you have a partner, spend this day with them.  There’s nothing wrong with spending a special day with your special someone even if it is a consumer holiday.  Companies just want to make money; is that really so wrong?  Is that really so different from you?  You have to make money to pay the bills, which is why you’re working, right?  But that is beside the point.  The point is, this is a day many people spend together because it gives them a reason to celebrate love outside their own sappy stories.  What is it to you?  What are you to them?  Don’t you think it’s cute when you see a couple walking down the road, hand-in-hand?  Why dislike their holiday so much?  WHY? 


But if you are taken, and you really want to rub Hallmark in the face, buy your partner potatoes.  They are better than roses for the following reason:


IronChef Foicite: well, there's a lot of reasons
IronChef Foicite: i mean, roses only last like a couple weeks
IronChef Foicite: and that's if you leave them in water
IronChef Foicite: and they really only exist to be pretty
IronChef Foicite: so that's like saying
IronChef Foicite: "my love for you is transitory and based solely on your appearance"
IronChef Foicite: but a potato!
IronChef Foicite: potatos last for fucking ever, man
IronChef Foicite: in fact, not only will they not rot, they actually grow shit even if you just leave them in the sack
IronChef Foicite: that part alone makes it a good symbol
IronChef Foicite: but there's more!
IronChef Foicite: there are so many ways to enjoy a potato! you can even make a battery with it!
IronChef Foicite: and that's like saying "i have many ways in which I show my love for you"
IronChef Foicite: and potatos may be ugly, but they're still awesome
IronChef Foicite: so that's like saying "it doesn't matter at all what you look like, I'll still love you"

Link to quote:



On a very unrelated note: surf around that site.  Most hilarious quotes ever.  Not politically correct or family-friendly, but still worth a good laugh.


Happy Valentine’s Day to all those couples out there!

11 February 2010

Dollhouse (review)

Since enough time has passed, and I’ve been able to mull around my thoughts, I’ve decided to give an official review of the television show Dollhouse, recently completed on Fox.  I should warn you that I have some issues with Fox, so this post will most likely be biased.


In what I call an unfortunate circumstance, Dollhouse only made it through a season.  I say season even though others may call it two seasons because a single television season should consist of twenty-something episodes:  no less than twenty, no more than twenty-six.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure an average season of television should last about twenty-two episodes.  Dollhouse has twenty-four episodes in total.


Within that twenty-four episode timeframe, Dollhouse managed to fit at least three seasons worth of material in that small amount of time.  The majority of the content is found in the last ten or so episodes.  You can see me complain about such nonsensical accomplishments here. [Warning: link contains spoilers]


Yes, this fast pace does detract from the story --- a lot.  I would have loved to have seen Adele DeWitt suffer more from her demotion.  Echo’s escape and circumstances behind her return should have been elaborated upon.  It would have been so cool to actually see Topher’s descent into insanity.  But alas, Fox did not give Joss Whedon a chance to develop his characters at a reasonable pace.  At least they had the courtesy to give him a heads up when his show was cancelled.


For, I assume, when Dear Joss heard about this cancellation, he decided to fit as much of the story into the final episodes as possible.  That meant that a character’s development was left assumed by the viewer.  It also meant that a few scenes from the episode “Epitaph One” went unseen by the viewer as well.  He worked so hard to cram the rest of the story in a way that made sense, that gave episodes clear arcs.  I do not commend Joss for the story, I commend him for his effort put forth into the storytelling.  If that man deserves anything, he deserves to produce a show that offers at least five seasons of content.  Fie upon Fox for their treatment of Storytelling Mastermind Joss Whedon!  Fie upon them all!


As for Dollhouse, because of the circumstances around its production, character development was sort of stunted in a way where we didn’t see how anyone developed.  The pacing was radically out of proportion especially when Guest Star Alexis Denisof was around.  So really, it put a damper on the whole operation all together.  But I give Dollhouse the benefit of the doubt.  It did not deserve what it got, and it had so much potential.

08 February 2010

Where the Wild Things Are (review)

Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Max Records, James Gandolfini
Grade: B+

Personally, I say the question of whether this is a children's movie is up in the air. I highly enjoyed it, but my friend secret codename Herb downright disliked it. Then again, she did confess that the monsters in the movie reminded her of her childhood nightmares. That I can understand.

Max is a disobedient little boy who likes to play outside and have adventures. We see him interact with his older sister and his mother. This establishes the theme that Max feels like the world is against him. Although he can make his mother laugh while she works, he does tend to be a little pain in the butt. One night, he runs away to an island inhabited by giant monsters. They agree to make Max king because Max tells them he was made king of the vikings. From there, Max declares that they build a giant fort where they can sleep in a giant pile like their first night. The story continues from there.

The movie itself does not seem to feature any main or central conflict. But the viewer can draw a few parallels between Max and the monster Carol. While at home, Max feels like the world is against him. I'm sure we've all felt like this before as a child. Adults think their way is the best way and don't believe children have minds of their own. Movies like this help bring to the front that children in fact are capable of thinking for themselves even if it is flawed. While no one agrees to go along with what Max has to say, he becomes a troublemaker.

On the island, Carol is the character everyone else isolates in a similar way. No one very much likes his ideas even if Carol thinks his ideas are the best. This is probably what first draws Max to Carol. As the story continues, and Max becomes king, Max discovers what it's like to be the one with the ideas and to be listened to. He likes it. Even though Max sometimes goes along with Carol,he does not always like Carol's ideas. This is apparent when KW brings her friends Bob and Terri into the fort and their brains are not eaten automatically. Although Max wanted the new friends to enter, Carol did not.

Although the monsters may not appear child-friendly to my friend, the imagination displayed throughout the movie was definitely that of a child. The lack of technology in the kid's life is apparent in the beginning of the movie, and I attribute this to his active imagination. (There is a theme there better left for another post.) The writer's did a very good job writing about a boy with a mind of creation, and they did a good job tying a lot of the events in his life together in the arc of the movie.

The main thing that caught my attention, however, was the photography. Whoever had command of the camera knew exactly how to poetically capture an image. It was kind of breathtaking to watch and kept a person inspired throughout the movie. Perhaps it's these images that reminded the viewer that the movie is about imagination. The cinematography is very inspiring.

However, the movie fails to present a central conflict to be resolved throughout the movie. Yes, there is conflict with Max's behavior at home and Carol's anger at the end of the movie, but it's not really resolved. We do not see Max learning a lesson while away, we just see him calm down enough to realize that maybe he didn't behave his best. And we do see Carol be upset for getting angry at Max too.

To go along with this, the characters don't really have central goals. While on the island, Max just wants to have fun and be the king for the monsters. Yes, they build a fort, the story continues after the fort is finished. It's just a background activity so the characters have something to do while they have fun.

Overall, I give this movie a B+. After a while, it did seem to get a bit long. And the lack of set goals and conflicts highlight the length. It detracts from what really made this movie enjoyable: good acting on Max's part and the photography. The active imagination was very endearing too.

This movie is recommended for everyone aged seven and up. Some of the images might be scary, and a character does get his arm ripped off at one point. But overall, very family friendly, and enjoyable to watch.

06 February 2010

Toki o kakeru shôjo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) -- A Review

Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Starring: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida
Grade: B/B-
viewed in the original Japanese with subtitles

The movie follows high schooler Makoto Konno. She's the typical student, not very smart but not stupid. Every day after school, she hangs out with her friends Chiaki and Kosuke. They play baseball on a daily basis. Nothing seems to be altogether wrong with anything. The day starts with Makoto almost late for school. She goes on to fail a surprise quiz, cause a scene while making tempura, and then forgets to deliver report books to the teacher's lounge. It's when she investigates someone rustling in the next room where she comes across a small walnut-shaped device that gives her the ability to leap through time.

The movie started out pretty strong. We hear Makoto complain about her younger sister. Some girls at school have crushes on Makoto's friends, but she's not bothered by this until later. As the movie progresses, the film seems to lose some of its strength. I was still interested throughout the whole thing, but then there was the Interesting Twist around three quarters into the movie.

I suppose this Interesting Twist is alluded to, but my friend (secret codename Herb) and I agreed that it could have been done better. The Interesting Twist was more of an unwarranted right-hook. And then I thought about it, and then I concluded that the allusions could have been done better.

That's my only qualm about the movie. The animation is beautiful throughout the whole thing, and there were some interesting shots that were very artistic. I liked the effects when she traveled through time --- with the clocks and numbers. Throughout the movie, she refers to her time travel ability as a "Time Leap", an action made literal by the fact that she leaps if she wants to travel through time.

I found it interesting that she doesn't run into her past or future selves while time traveling. But I suppose when you are the one being taken out of time, the entirety of you is taken out as well.

This movie was also riddled with comedic moments. Leaping through a kendo lesson was pretty funny. After a few leaps, she mastered the ability to roll when she lands. So she'll suddenly appear somersaulting on the ground to the surprised faces of Kosuke and Chiaki. Not only that, but her antics in general were really amusing to watch. It was very entertaining in that sense.

Overall, it was a good movie. A nice little anime for those unwilling to watch an entire series. I'm not sure whether to give it a B or a B-. Yes, it's good, but that Interesting Twist is really something that hits you the wrong way. So I'll just ride the fence on this one and come up with a better grading scale. I'll post it when I have it figured out.