Review: Divergent (Possible Spoilers!)

I don’t like complaining about something I know nothing about, and so in the light of a recent eye-opening top sellers list I’ve decided to see what the fuss was all about before I start bitching about it, which is obviously my favourite thing to do. Since I conveniently named the title after what I’m doing my review on I can’t troll you guys and pretend I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey, which I probably won’t ever read unless someone was paying me a life time salary to do it.

It seems like this Divergent book by Veronica Roth is a big deal recently. Now considering recent trends in “literature” it was very optimistic of me to think that perhaps that there would be a refreshing change in the reading preferences of today’s generation, but I’m not going to lie, I read the book in four hours and it was quite fun. And yes, there was a refreshing change in the main character, and instead of being the typical immature protagonist of teen series who wonders why anyone would like her and denies her obvious attraction to the love interest, she is quite honest with herself. Despite the fact that the love interest feels like the typical dark and brooding type of male character I found the romance quite well written, only it was so well written and took up so much of the book that I could not take the rest of the storyline seriously. Like Twilight, it felt like the rest of the plotline was written to propel the romance.

And that’s fine! I read it like it was a fan fiction of a teen age girl’s life, in which the circumstances are perfect for meeting that prince charming. It was fun, it wasn’t that frustrating, and it was grammatically correct. At the same time it felt like The Hunger Games all over again, except Katniss doesn’t have to choose between two people and she doesn’t delude herself into thinking that every single hint of romance is for another purpose because there is no way anyone could possibly love her (which by the way, is one of the most irritating things female protagonists do).

Instead of a dystopian novel that revolves around the importance of choice set in a parallel universe that strives for utopia, it is for all intents and purposes, a cute, fun romance. For anyone expecting anything else, you might be disappointed.

However, for those who are only expecting a romance throughout the series, you will also be disappointed, because it’s sequel is completely different. And the conclusion of Insurgent, if not corny, is extremely disappointing.

I should really find other books to read. I feel like it was disappointing only because I am not within the range of its target audience. Which means I should also stop looking for books to read from the top sellers shelf, because it is a terrible reflection of good reads in general.

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50 Shades of I don’t want to live on this planet anymore

So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Ironically, opinions about this book are rather black and white, and I am going to be one of those people who are on the rather negative side.

Before I start, I would like to congratulate E.L. James on publishing a fan fiction made up of what used to be the worst thing that happened to literature and her own fantasies, which, being what they are, should’ve been kept inside her head. And I lied about not starting yet, because I would like to dive right into it: Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, because E.L. James’ fantasies are raping erryone’s brains out there. Unfortunately it’s not rape if you enjoy it, and to be very harsh, the worst thing about this book is that people like it. Well not the worst, because there are many things about 50 Shades of Grey that are the worst, like being the fastest selling paper back since Harry Potter. Those two things shouldn’t even be in the same universe, let alone the same sentence.

Usually I like to have pictures and videos dispersed throughout my post that relates to the topic, but the topic causes me so much physical pain that I’m just going to leave this video here that has two things that I love: cats, and Ellen.

To be completely honest, I have never read the book myself, and I don’t even read erotica, which makes my points less credible and I just sound like someone who’s on the bandwagon of being pissed off at something that a lot of people are pissed off at. I’m also not even famous, and I’ve never published an entire book, so that makes me even less trustworthy, but there are some things that might help:

Sweaters For Days and Moves Like Jagger: A blog by writer Jennifer Armintrout, with this part specifically dedicated to 50 shades of grey recaps, and no I’m no longer going to be italicizing the book or capitalizing it because it’s really just a fanfic.

And here is a video by Alex Day of Chameleon Circuit on the same topic, in which he makes some excellent points:

I don’t want to publish this post riding (haha that’s an unintentional pun that makes me want to vomit slightly) on the words of other, funnier, and more successful people than me, so I will say that from my perspective as a prospective writer, I am terrified that this is allowed to be a published book! I would be completely fine with it if it was this incredibly popular fan fiction, but that it stayed free and stayed online, but now it’s clogging up our bookstores, taking up the top sellers list, like so:

What has happened to the world of reading? The entire trilogy of E.L. James’ fantasies are in the top two of Chapter’s most popular books, and there’s definitely something not quite right with that. Might I also point out that in 10th place is a boxed set of the Hunger Games trilogy, all of which have already made their appearance in the top 10? There should be some sort of rules with what they put on these shelves.

Just for a measure of what the entire top seller’s list is like at Chapters:

#12: this isn’t even a book.

#14: …

Again, RULES.

I guess instead of a specific rant on 50 shades, this is just a post about how little hope I have left for humanity. I am sitting here with a choice.  I could either choose good, and write real literature, with original characters, conveying an actual story about issues that I see around me in the world. This will require hard work, research, days of pulling my hair out and crying myself to sleep and getting rejected by publisher after publisher before I actually get anywhere. On the other hard I could choose evil, and write what I know people want to read just so I can get my hands on some cash and a lot of fame, and expand boundaries of acceptable social conduct, creating chaos within homes, and breaking the shackles holding back the monsters that live within each of us. And I won’t care if people hate me because I’ll be so rich I won’t hear the hate through my soundproof mansion made up of wads of cash.

So in conclusion E.L. James wants to take over the world with an army of masochistic, sadistic, horny animals created through subtle subliminal messaging.

for fear of my own personal safety.

Should I remind you that she has two teenage sons? Highschool is already tough enough …

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The Return

That sounds a lot more epic than it actually is. I’m just back from China, that’s all, and I’ve found one of my favourite wallpapers of all time that I once used on my old WordPress, but accidentally lost one day when I changed my theme. Then the laptop I saved the picture on died and when I got it fixed I only had my music back but nothing else. Which is fine.

 

Anyway, there are about a million things I need to do (like stop playing games for one) before I can sit down and write a good blog entry. I think for some reason I elevated the standards of blogging a great deal and sometimes I’m just to scared to write anything because I feel like I have to be working on it for a week and if it’s not perfect than I can go DIAF. But it’s just a blog, and I am my own boss, my own editor. If I don’t post anything that’s my fault for not writing, not because the writing’s not good enough. It’s probably not good enough, but how will I learn if I don’t write?

My YTF Story

My YTF story is nothing spectacular, and if anything, it’s altogether predictable, but if YTF has taught me anything, it is that I, as an individual, matter, and that by believing in myself and my choices, I will amount to something.

A year ago this time, I had nothing going for me. I was lonely, insecure, feeling useless and unloved. Everything around me was falling apart, and the people around me kept leaving me behind. Between my parents, who had been separated for eight years, I would never stop being the middle-man. What I learned from that experience was that according to the other, each of them was a terrible person. I grew up loving my parents, not as a couple, but separately as people, and hearing them talk about each other in such a hateful way tore me apart, not because of their resentment, but because I was old enough to realize that what they were saying weren’t complete exaggerations. My parents weren’t the perfect, loving people that I had modelled myself after as I grew up. They were flawed, filled with resentment and deep seated anger towards each other.

And perhaps because of this I developed a pretty severe hatred toward all people. It got to my head that in reality, in everyone there was hatred, a person who is selfish and ugly. Most of all, I hated myself, because I was the product of this hatred as a result of having been raised by my parents. If gold rusts, then what will iron do?

But YTF changed my perspective. When I watched their videos, I laughed, because, well they’re hilarious, awesome people, I cried, because they had come so far and worked so hard. Their message reminded me that I was not a person as a result of outside forces that influenced me, but as a result of the paths I chose to take despite of those forces. Timing and circumstance were completely out of my control, but they create the opportunity of choice. Slowly, I began to thaw, and I began to want to like people, love people, because it is a good feeling.

For many years, I tried to focused on myself, because caring about other people hurt too much, but because of YTF I began to see value in others, my peers, my friends, my family, and most importantly my parents. I loved the happiness that YTF brought me every time I watched their videos, and slowly I began to have the desire to bring happiness to other people myself. On the last night of 2011, I made a resolution that in 2012, I would be nicer and friendlier to all the people I came in contact with. Every time I go out ot hang out my friends, I set a goal to make them laugh at least once.

March 23rd, 2012 in Vancouver BC I had the great honour to be able to see YTF live in concert. I wasn’t able to get any VIP tickets to meet them, but it still meant the world to be able to see them on stage.

I’m still a work in progress, but I am willing to work hard. If I can work half as hard as any member of YTF has, I know I can make a big change in my life.

Thanks so much, YTF for being amazing. Keep doing what you do!

Do you have your own YTF Story?

Check out http://myytfstory.tumblr.com/ and if you’ve got some time on your hands and feel up to sharing, you can submit your own YTF Story and read the stories of other YTF fans. The creator of the blog will tweet YTF about the fan site once she reaches 50 submissions as a way of showing YTF how much they’ve inspired their fans. Let them know how much you love them!

-kwin

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Just going to leave this here …

Just going to leave this here.

For when I’m in a bad mood,

So I’ll can look at it

and die inside some more.

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The Hunger Games Review: brief version, no spoilers

I’m just wondering how director Gary Ross will salvage books two and three. The media attention the Hunger Hames gained prior to the movie would’ve made sense after the movie’s release, but there’s no telling how explosive the franchise will become now that the movie was not a flop.

4/5

But give me some time to make tea and ponder.

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YTF, Vancouver

Warning: long-ish post is long-ish.

I went to the YTF concert last night at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. The venue was really nice, bright, clean, new, but that’s not what you’re interested in now, is it?

If you’re slightly out of the loop with this whole YTF business, here’s a brief intro:

From left to right: Victor King (Kim), Andrew Garcia, D-Trix (Dominic Sandoval), Kevjumba (Kevin Wu), Chester See, JR Aquino, and Ryan Higa (a.k.a. Nigahiga). Many of them have been on TV shows such as American Idol, America’s Best Dance Crew, So You Think You Can Dance and The Amazing Race (I think I just named all of them …). YTF stands for Yesterday, Today, Forever (not Youtube Friends or Yellow Toed Frogs). For more information: Click me!

I went into the concert with little to no expectations. I knew that it would be a fun time, because YTF consists of such adorable, wonderful people, but I wasn’t sure how a concert with a group of such multi-talented people would work. I was lucky enough to have had friends that were willing to come along with me, being the only one I knew who really liked YTF, although at the same time I was worried that they might be disappointed. It was like showing friends a funny Youtube video, except this was more stressful because it was live and I couldn’t pause it and explain the jokes (which actually makes it worse … except I feel better …).

At events like this, there is always a group of people who I am extremely jealous of because they came dressed up in something extremely clever that I SHOULD’VE thought of, except I didn’t. Three people sitting smack-dab in the centre of the theatre were dressed up in BEST Crew gear, which was far sexier than showing too much skin. Unfortunately, the lighting was not very flattering for those fans (non-existent, in fact) and there’s a chance Rave couldn’t see them at all, which is too bad, because they deserved Platinum VIP passes just for that idea.

And speaking of BEST Crew, half of them were absent. That was the bad news: Kevin couldn’t make it to the first concert of YTF’s tour!! There was supposed to have been good news to follow that piece of bad news, except I wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe I was just too shocked that Kevin would be missing. Rave looked so lonely without Pong, even though Rave likes to pretend he doesn’t need Pong.

EDIT: It seems that Kevin was absent in San Jose as well, possibly because he’s sick D: hope he feels better soon!

The show started off fashionably late (I guess) with a dance-off between three Vancouver based crews, all of whom were very brave, and the last crew (DTS, was it?), being exceptionally talented won the dance-off.

I have to admit it was a weird feeling sitting in my seat seeing Ryan Higa walking on stage, so normal, so human, live, in 3D, breathing the same air as me, after only being able to see him through my computer screen for so long, and the same feeling followed with every member that came on to do their own little segments after.

Chester See (I might have the order wrong!):

1. Bromance (with Ryan Higa) (Original)

2. Goddamn You’re Beautiful (Original)

3. I’m Falling For You (Original)

How did this not manage to win over anyone’s heart?

Victor King: This dude was so smooth my friend, who didn’t know him previous to this, basically swooned as soon as he glided onto stage.

1. Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra (Cover)

+ dance

2. Through Thick and Thin (Original)

3. The Gentleman (Original, from The Victor King EP)

+ dance

featuring Amy Nguyen haha

Andrew Garcia (definitely don’t have the right order here I think…)

1. Somebody to Love – Justin Bieber (Cover)

2. Crazy (Original)

3. Dumb (Original)

It’s the first time he played it for an audience, so no vid, sorry!

D-Trix

Mimed dance segment:

This is only a part of his entire segment, which was hilarious.

And last but not least!

JR Aquino(Not sure about the order either … heh)

1. Handle with Care (Original)

2. Thinking About You – Frank Ocean (JRA Remake)
Dat falsetto.

3. By Chance (You & I)

He was surprised that his fans liked this song so much, but in all honesty you can’t not love this song if you listen to the lyrics.

And finally, to wrap up the show, how can there not be a Nice Guys performance?? The only sad thing about it was that Ryan had to rap Kevin’s part because Kevin wasn’t there. Sad face.

Almost 33 million views!

Yeah so halfway through my post I decided to sort of recreate the experience for anyone who managed to stumble across this post that didn’t get a chance to go to the YTF concert in Vancouver last night. I used mostly the original Youtube versions of every song because the fan videos that are out right now are really horrible quality, but they’re out there on Youtube, tagged with YTF, Vancouver etc. etc. if you want to check them out too. I didn’t record anything myself because I find holding up  camera dilutes my concert going experience a lot, and I try to commit everything to memory, even though its really poor. Fortunately I dragged my lazy ass to the computer when the songs were still fresh in my mind so I could remember all of them for you!

YTF was a source of inspiration before this concert, even though my area of interest is not so much in the performing arts. Their message is basically this: if you want to do something, you have the option to do it, and if you set your mind to it, you can become great. Dominic said at the end of the show, “If you have haters, then you’re doing something right” (or something to that effect). After the show I felt even more inspired to be able to see them live, because in the end you realize that they are people just like us. Even geniuses have to work hard to become someone.

Everyone in YTF was very natural and interacted with the crowd with great ease. It was definitely an honour to have been able to see them live, and even my friends who weren’t too familiar with them before the concert had a good time.

On top of that, it’s a beautiful day in Vancouver, with no clouds in the sky!

YTF hangovers are the best.

kwin

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Ooh. la. la.

I don’t like to talk about personal romantic misadventures, because I guess I feel embarrassed to be believing in something so silly. Of course there could be a great deal of other reasons why romance and love and affection make me feel cringe…y and uncomfortable. Freud might say it arises from issues of my childhood, namely my parents divorce, or maybe it is just in my nature, in my genes, or maybe it its because of the way I was nurtured, growing up, and the things I was exposed to. Whatever.

Romance makes me wrinkle my nose, there’s something about behaving so idiotically that gives me the creeps. Of course, I suppose its nice to be doing nice things with each other, but you can make your affections known without littering the floor with rose pedals and shitting your money away on expensive restaurants. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re into.

Perhaps my reluctance to cave into romantic activity comes from this whole idea of expensive gifts and such. Okay, I’m sure there are couples who would turn their noses up at that and say: “Hm. We’ve never gone on an expensive dinner before. Our dates are sitting at home watching a movie in our sweats (for some reason my spell check thinks movie is not a real word …). We’ve never bought into the Hallmark holidays, because we truly care about each other.” Okay, cool story bro, but I’m talking about people in general, people who do buy into it. There is a certain stereotype about relationships that revolve around money, and they wouldn’t exist if these people don’t.

I believe I told someone once that I was a romantic. Well that was in my first year of university, when I didn’t know what the FUCK I was talking about, because I hate it. This it NOT because being single made me bitter and want a lot of cats, because I would want to have a lot of cats regardless of my status and I am not bitter at all about it. It took me several experiences to slap me awake. Prior to this I was somehow brainwashed by the society around me to believe that I wanted to be in a “relationship” and that it would make me happy. Wrong. If society demands that you want something, it will not care if you are happy or not once you have it. Sometimes this is for the greater good, a homogeneous society might be more peaceful because human beings are accepting of the familiar, the known, but is not as warm towards things that are different. Dark skin. Homosexuality. Different religions. Mental and physical diseases.

Sometimes I feel like I’m among a minority of people that society takes for granted doesn’t exist, but from my experiences with the internet, I think this minority is very big. I think it might be more accurate if I say that there is something within each of us that society suppresses. The scary thing is that we are not even aware that it is being pushed away. If I were to fear anything, I would be afraid of what I truly am, without society whispering in my ear, but what I fear is the unknown, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Honestly I’ve had plenty of chances to “be with someone”. Sometimes I fuck up, sometimes they fuck up, and sometimes one of us is just not that into it. But if I truly wanted it, I would’ve had it by now. People who seek attention get it, people who work towards their goals live their dreams. If companionship was really what I was after, nothing would’ve stopped me.

But I think this wasn’t what first put me off trying to find a boyfriend. I can say honestly now that I am not bitter, but at one point, I was extremely so. I was so obsessed with the thought of being in a relationship, and it made me sad, because it was something that I couldn’t get. At the same time I was tired as fuck of advice like: “If you don’t think about it as much, then it might come to you.” If I was a passionate writer and my first manuscript was rejected by a publisher, I would’ve been fucked if I just sat back and chilled out waiting for a publisher to come find my sorry ass. I was also tired of trying too hard and making an idiot of myself, tired of believing that there was something wrong with me, that I was insane. I was sick of girls telling me, “It’s okay for girls to make the first move! Equality! Blah blah blah bullshit!” Because honestly, guys prefer to make the first move. Maybe not all guys, but most of them, so you can be safe to assume that the majority of them will want to make the first move. It’s the girls’ job to give the right signals so that the guy can tell when he should make the move.

But I digress.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I should not have been bitter over something I truly did not want. There were more important things to worry about, at least for me.

But I feel like it’s wrong to boycott relationships, especially at my age. And people will tell me, “Loosen up, just have fun.” But it’s not because I’m uptight, nor is it because I’m a prude or whatever. I won’t have fun just dating someone I’m not that into, and this frustrates me so much. I’m guarded towards guys not because I think I’m better than them, but because I know I won’t like them, and that I will just lead them on, if they end up liking me a lot, and if I know this before hand, then why go through with the whole thing knowing I’m going to hurt him? And on a selfish note, I prefer a lot of individual activities, writing, drawing, reading etc., and I honestly feel like dating and such can be a waste of time. I am not in such a desperate need for companionship to throw myself on anything that comes my way hoping that I’ll find someone to hold my bag while I go shopping, and that I can crawl to when I’m down, but I have no true affections for.

I guess somewhere deep inside I still want to find someone I really care for, but these illusions about love are created in me by generations of princess stories, dreams of true love, and they don’t really exist. Not in my world, not with my luck. It will forever exist in potentiality, in dreams.

But I believe they might exist with other people. I don’t want to be a party pooper, right? I might get burned at the stake.

kwin.

Andrew Bayer

Falling in love. I guess that’s what it feels like, not that I know what love really is, or what falling in love feels like, but if I had to say, this is pretty much it.

Andrew Bayer is a magician of sorts, and he seems to have direct access to my musical tastes. Even his remixes get to me (i.e. Alquimia). I’ve always been a support of music as a religion, music as a replacement for love, music as inspiration, but without tasting the sweetness of these melodies, I spoke in ignorance. I believe I was right, but it was for the wrong reasons. His music affects me in a way that’s different from the music of most trance artists. There’s a deeper connection that I feel with a limited number of songs from Anjunabeats and Armada etc. etc. (so sue me for listening to the more “mainstream” trance labels …), a few from Mat Zo, Matt Lange and Arnej, but this connection is more consistent with Andrew Bayer’s tracks.

And this new track, You, featured in the upcoming Anjunadeep 04, just killed me as soon as I heard it. There’s nothing too extravagant about Andrew’s songs, which is what I love. There are so many subtleties in all of his tracks that give them so much more depth and character, they are so moving, so intense without being in your face with what the song sounds like, if that makes any sense.

On the same subject, Anjunadeep has always been amazing. It has an addictive, unique sound that is exactly what it advertises: deep.

This has been a brief but not too brief expression of my love of Andrew Bayer’s music (and Anjunadeep, by extension). It just feels wrong to have such strong emotions inside of me and not express them (which is why it’s probably a good thing I’m in Arts and not Sciences). Music is very subjective, and by expressing my taste I do not mean to impose an opinion of Andrew Bayer’s music upon anyone or that he should be greater than any other producer because I think so, only that I am grateful that I have found something that I love so much.

I guess these kinds of posts are more selfish than they appear (aside from promoting Andrew Bayer and Anjunadeep) but I hope to anyone reading this that they also have something in their lives that makes them feel so in love.

This is mine.

Kwin.

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V for Vendetta

This movie review is far past overdue, six years past, to be exact, so any spoiler warning might be useless, but I’ll give one nonetheless.

To my recollection there was never a very big deal made of this movie, because I was never moved to watch it when it came out. I should’ve known then that the Wachowski brothers had something to do with the movie, and it should’ve matter to me, but it didn’t. I should’ve listened to a friend, who urged that I watch it, because although he is narrow-minded and knows little about me and my movie preferences, he does have good taste. I was probably ignorant at the time, as we all appear to be in hindsight, but if I had watched this movie then, I wouldn’t have had the same insight to write this review now.

V for Vendetta is a little more political than I would like my movies to be. Politics don’t interest me, I don’t vote, I don’t read the papers–it is my least favourite part of history. But politics isn’t the only thing I see in this movie. V is a superhero, made of his past experiences or pain and anguish, he is the Beast to Evey’s Beauty, he is anonymous, “he [is] you, and me, and all of us”. When he first appeared on screen, I felt sad, because I knew he would die, not because it was predictable, but because of what he represented. I knew it because of his strong convictions, his brilliance, and his madness.

I knew it was a good movie in the first few minutes of it. I had the feeling that tells you “This is a good movie! Pay close attention!” This movie is beyond simple entertainment, like perhaps Zombieland was, my gut told me, and I believed it. This feeling between tears and joy, some sort of painful euphoria of having experienced something great, and regretting only that it is over, that is what movie magic is, and I am saying right after I’ve watched it, just like I wrote the review for Night Circus right after I’ve read it. This way I am free of second guesses, and re-interpretations. I have no biases, no interference, no one to tell me of its flaws, no one to disagree with me, no one to explain why I am stupid for having enjoyed it. I must live this moment of happiness before I can allow it to be dissected. And I would like to point out that I have never been more attracted to Hugo Weaving’s voice, and at the same time I see how important it was not to see the face behind the mask, because of what the anonymity represents.

The only thing I didn’t agree with was Natalie Portman’s British accent. Other than that I am glad to add it to the list of movies I would watch again and again, not only because I enjoyed it so much the first time around, but that I have faith enough in the Wachowski brothers to know that I will find new things in it every time I do watch it again.

I will remind myself, as I always remind myself after I have decided I have experienced something of great value to me, that nothing is perfect. I don’t expect this movie to be without flaws, but I also assume the same of the people who critique it, and who critique all things in general, because they are human, even though they might not like to believe that they should suffer the same weaknesses.

I should also add that to make real commentaries on the movie, I probably should read the original graphic novels as well.

Kwin

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