What if Famous Writers wrote “Twilight”?!?

Came across this one on the ‘net (io9.c0m) and the elizabeth stark website:

If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight…

If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight…The main problem with Twilight isn’t its sparkly vampires who lack all traditional weaknesses, or even its anti-feminist sensibility. When you get right down to it, the trouble is that the writing is terrible, filled with cliche phrases (“smoldering eyes”), repeated words (294 “eyes” in 498 pages) and the reductive characterization of its main characters (Bella is clumsy, and I guess she likes books. Or something).

On a recent car-trip with my husband and the writer Chip Cheek, we mulled over the question: What if great literary writers of the last 200 years had penned Twilight instead?

My top favorites from the site include:

Herman Melville

“Call me Bella.” A tome about the length of the original series investigates Bella’s monomanical search for the vampire who stole her virginity. There’s an entire chapter devoted to describing the devastating whiteness of Edward’s skin, and several on the physiognomy of vampires, starting with their skeletal structure outward.

Virginia Woolf

The novel takes place over the course of twenty four hours, during which Bella is painting a portrait of Edward and reflecting on how her femininity circumscribes her role within 20th century society.

Cormac McCarthy

In the opening scene, Edward dashes Bella’s head against a rock and rapes her corpse. Then he and Jacob take off on an unexplained rampage through the West.

Jane Austen

Basically the same as the original, except that Bella is socially apt and incredibly witty. Her distrust of Edward is initially bourne out of a tragic misunderstanding of his character, but after a fling with Jacob during which he sexually assaults her (amusing to no one in this version) she and Edward live happily ever after.

Annie Proulx

Edward and Jacob defy society’s expectations up in the mountains.

Lewis Carroll

Bella takes acid and charts syllogisms.

James Joyce

Edward’s rapacious love for Bella reflects the way globalism has pillaged Ireland. It’s entirely written in Esperanto, with sections in untranslated Greek, except for Chapter 40, which is inexplicably rendered as a script page from the musical The Book of Mormon.

Dorothy Parker

Bella writes a brilliant takedown of the latest school play, dates a string of men, and repeatedly attempts suicide.

Kate Chopin

Stifled by her marriage to Edward, Bella has an affair with Jacob and then drowns herself.

Ernest Hemingway

Edward and Bella exchange terse dialogue alluding to Edward’s anatomical problem. Eventually, Bella leaves him for Jacob, a local bullfighter with a giant…sense of entitlement.

Ayn Rand

Edward tells Bella that he intends to stop saving her life, unless she starts paying him in gold bullion. Hatefucking ensues, then Jacob spouts objectivist philosophy for the next 100 pages.

Haruki Murakami: [Added by commenter Benk]

Bella has sex with Edward, who is half a ghost. Jacob is a talking cat. Most of the prose is given over to descriptions of Bella making pasta.

My addition:

Neil Gaiman

The story begins with a song. Then the song creates the world. Then major, minor and demi-gods appear. A hero’s journey in hell occurs, with Edward starring as the brooding, pissed off vampire who can’t drink blood because of a spell and must go to hell to break the spell. A duel of philosophical/existential dimensions ensue. Somebody gets swallowed up in a vagina. Edward saves the world by singing.

Terry Pratchett

The world is a flat disc on top of a turtle spinning on top of an elephant and Edward and Bella are on top of this world trying to save the world from witches and fairies and goblins and what-not.

George Lucas

Edward is Han Solo trying to save Princess Bella and Jacob Skywalker from the Evil Empire of Disapproving Vampires and Werewolves. A intergalactic civil war ensues. Vampires fly spaceships. Princess and Skywalker think they like each other, but realize they are related, so Edward gets the girl instead.

Ah, so many possible things could happen – if anyone but Stephanie Meyers wrote this series.

As Yoda said – “Endless,the possibilities are”.

🙂

Sci-Fi: the future of sex and sexuality

Saw this really awesome blog post by scientist and sci-fi enthusiast Kyle Munkittrick from Discover:

Science fiction knows how to play around with sex and gender. The free-lovin’ of A Stranger in A Strange Land, Commander Shepard’s bisexual proclivities, and William T. Riker’s seemingly universal interspecies compatibility are constant sources of entertainment.

And the fun doesn’t stop with organic entities. Androids, cyborgs, and robots make gender all the stranger. Why is Data fully functional? Isn’t it curious that, of all the characters in Ghost in the Shell the two most heavily cyberized characters, Motoko and Batou, are hyper-feminine and hyper-masculine respectively? And, my favorite: as a robot Bender has no gender, so if Bender bends his gender, what gender does Bender bend?

Sci-fi sex is fun to talk about, of course, but how can all of that help us understand the actual future of humanity? Simply put: we imagine what we hope to see. So the question is: what is it we imagine and hope for? An utter free-for-all of alien-cyborg-A.I. bacchanalia? I don’t think so. Instead, sci-fi is teaching the diversity of our own human sexuality back to us.

Science fiction allows for universes in which we can more easily accept alien forms of gender expression and sexual desire. For example, Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element is perfectly and outrageously androgynous. In a normal action flick, I suspect Rhod would be a controversial and possibly distracting figure. In science fiction, however, Rhod is just another character caught up in the chaos. Sci-fi lets us explore sexuality free of the cultural and social baggage it carries in the here and now.

For more, click here.

Always tell someone where you are going (and other lessons learned from “127 Hours”)

After having watched “127 Hours” I have learned some very important lessons that I should remember everytime I have the urge to travel somewhere:

1. Always remember to tell someone where you are going…in case you fall into a crack in a canyon and your hand gets pinned in a boulder. So, people, I am in Africa.

2. Bring loads of water. It saves you from the inevitable moment when you have to drink your own pee.

3. Never buy the China-made knife. Bring your Swiss knfie instead.

4. Bring food.

5. Ropes are important.

6. Don’t forget your digital camera. It can save you from a Wilson-the-ball/Tom Hanks-madness.

7. Your arm is not as important as you think it is.

And in related news…if you were Aron Ralston and trapped in a boulder, would you give up your arm to free yourself?

What’s your comfort film?

So last night, whilst talking to my housemates (a Chinese Canadian guy and a new British Chinese guy – yep, it’s two guys, a gay person and a house) we were talking about homesickness and what whether we have comfort films (like comfort food) that help get us through those dark times.

Housemate number 1 (Canadian) says his comfort films were Se7en, 12 Monkeys and  Fight Club (“Do you have a thing about Brad Pitt?” housemate number 2 asks.).

I remember the first time I was overseas, I was spending a disturbingly inordinate amount of time watching movies and television series (hence the birth of this blog), and I remember watching “Hairspray”and “Stardust”over and over again at the time. I also remember watching a few Filipino films (say that fast, 10 times) as well.

When I was in Canada, for some strange, inexplicable reason, I used to watch D.E.B.S over and over again.

Alright, it's probably the short, plaid skirts, the legs attached to them, and the hotness of two girls making out that probably made this a comfort film for me. 🙂

When I went back home to the Philippines, I used to watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”over and over again, as well as “Battlestar Galactica”, “True Blood” and “Glee”.

When I’m feeling down, I usually turn to light, romantic, usually teen films or comedies. I refuse to watch horror now because they’ll just depress me more.

Right now, it’s “Zoolander” that I love watching over and over again, along with “How to Train a Dragon”. If I could snag “The Producers” and “Team America”, I’m all set.

What about you, what’s your comfort film?

Retro-review:Mulholland Drive

Sigh.

I watched Mulholland Drive the first time it came out on cable, first on the Japanese cable, Wowow (but of course!) in its full, uncensored form, and then on Star Movies, so mercilessly cut that I couldn’t make sense of it even more. All I could remember of it was “Silencio….silencio…” a line from the film that my sister and I would just randomly insert in conversations that had morphed into a joke afterwards.

I remember having intense discussions with friends about it, and I remember one friend actually walking out on me, refusing to believe my analysis of the film.

If truth be told, almost 10 years after its release, I am as baffled and bewildered by the film as when I first saw it. And I still wonder about a lot of unanswered questions the movie raised. Like why does Rita (Laura Harring) have amnesia? Why did she have a car accident? Where did the money come from? Why is Betty (Naomi Watts) so annoyingly cheerful? Did Rita and Betty’s intense (intensely sexual) relationship really occur? Or did it all happen only in Betty’s mind? What is the dwarf’s purpose? What does the cowboy do? How does Adam (Justin Theroux) fit in all of these? And what is Rita and Betty’s connection to Diane (again played by Watts) and Camilla (played by Harring)’s story?  Why were the love scenes so brutally short, or brutal and short? More importantly,what does it all mean?!?

The story of Rita’s amnesiac character,who stumbles onto aspiring actress Betty’s apartment (and into her arms, =wink=, =wink=), and who tries to search for her identity as a budding romance develops between her and Betty, which suddenly abruptly ends as another storyline of the same faces but with different names (Dianne and Camille) has left critics and movie fans properly baffled and puzzled, but this story though has generated a lot of buzz and a lot of interest, long after the movie has been given accolades and/or bad reviews. This is understandable as the movie started out as a television pilot from the mind of David Lynch. Confusing and puzzling it may be, but boring it isn’t. Told in a maddeningly non-linear fashion (but not so non-linear as to be “Memento”), the film has generated discussion on reality and the subconscious, mind and memory, emotion and ambition, as well as discussion on how Hollywood is depicted: the glittering, glamorous Hollywood of possibilities and stardom, and the dark, depressing Hollywood of broken dreams and failures.

If you do want to figure out what it all means, David Lynch has come up with helpful clues on the DVD release that might either puzzle you, enlighten you or drive you right to the edge:

“David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller”:

  1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: At least two clues are revealed before the credits.
  2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.
  3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again?
  4. An accident is a terrible event — notice the location of the accident.
  5. Who gives a key, and why?
  6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.
  7. What is felt, realized, and gathered at the Club Silencio?
  8. Did talent alone help Camilla?
  9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkie’s.
  10. Where is Aunt Ruth?  

While you may come out confused about the movie after watching it, I recommend watching it at least twice, just to see where it takes you. Half of the fun of watching movie is the new discoveries you find as you watch it and seeing interpretations and re-interpretations of it.

Or you can just watch it for Laura Harring and Naomi Watts passionately giving it a go.

Either way it won’t disappoint. Even if you come away from the movie scratching your head, baffled and bewildered, asking yourself, “”But what does it all mean?!?”



I geek out, therefore I do: Jung and Descartes in comic form are much more fun!

So back when I was making my master’s thesis on sci-fi and mythology and motifs, I have had to read a lot of Carl Jung for related literature to support my ideas on the correlation between mythology, sci-fi and the collective unconscious. At that time, I enjoyed reading him, but not being a psych major had its drawbacks, especially since I struggled with some terms he would reference from other materials. However, be that as it may, his ideas were amazing, and certainly a lot more fun than the idea of perpetual repression Sigmund Freud perpetuated.

There was a point in my life as well when I was reading nothing but philosophy all the time, just for fun, and I had a great time reading them, until I got to Descartes.

In my search for worthwhile online comic books, I came across this one from eviltwincomics.com, which has chosen to make Jung and Descartes more intelligible. 🙂

Entitled “Action Philosophers”, this is a comic book series by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, that succeeds in simplifying Jung and Descartes and thus making them more understable for the internet-age millenium.

Their series on Jung chronicles the friendship (and closeness) between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, points out the friendly rivalry between, Carl Jung’s discovery of the collective unconscious, his inevitable break from Freudian ideas, and the falling out and bitter rivalry between them and their followers that resulted. The comic book succeeds in laying out the foundations of Jungian psychology as followsin making Descartes more comprehensible,  able to condense his ideas from his Meditations on Philosophy to bitesize form:

Jung discovers the collective unconscious

Jung discovers the collective conscious 🙂

 

“I think, there I am”: Descartes in comic form



Geek discovers: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the dangers of a single story

There are advantages to being in Africa.

One is that it expands your world further.

Another is that stereotypes you’ve had, misconceptions you’ve had, expectations you’ve had go completely out of the window, when you come and you realize that the things you’ve read about Africa are not all necessarily true.

For another, you may discover how different you are from them, but more often than not, you’ll discover how similar your lives are, how you think and feel and dream and wish for the same things, that at the end of the day, we’re all just living under the same sun afterall.

Another advantage you have: you discover a wholly different world, of books and music and movies and artists and writers that you wouldn’t have discovered had you stayed home. 🙂

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story (speech at Oxford, England)

A few days ago the housemate downloaded a video of a speech from a writer I had never heard of, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is my literary ignorance, and the fact that back home, it is mostly world literature is eclipsed by either self-help books or books by Stephanie Meyer.

I listened to the speech, whilst watching an episode of a Filipino telenovela badly dubbed in English. As the speech began, with Adichie talking about childhood reading memories filled in blonde-blue eyed children, white people talking about the weather, people eating apples, and producing the exact same stories later on, not realizing that these were removed from a country where it was always hot, and people ate mangoes, and there weren’t any blonde-blue eyed children, I found myself listening to her speech.As her speech progressed, talking about the time when, as a student in America, she had an American roommate who irritated her with her ignorance about Africa and its people, I couldn’t help but listen. By the time she was talking about the dangers of a single story, how that creates stereotypes, how stereotypes are dangerous because they are stories that are incomplete, and must needs be completed, I had turned the volume on the tv down, completely engrossed in her speech.

I have, since then, been looking for the complete  text of her speech. What I have found though is an excerpt of her speech at cnn.com:

“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo (Nigerian language) word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story, and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have and entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story. I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called “American Psycho”—(Laughter)—and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation. (Laughter)”

I remember my own childhood then, of stories about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and of Beauty and the Beast, of white-skinned, beautiful young women who always seemed to need to be in danger and the tall, handsome, dashing young princely men who always rescued them. I never wanted to be these white young women, I was shorter, I had brown skin, I knew I could never be as pretty as they were…but I did want to be those young men – they always seemed to have more fun. 🙂 (but that will be a story reserved for another day).

As I grew, I was able to read books by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and contemporary authors like James Michener, Leon Uris and popular authors like John Grisham and Sidney Sheldon. I’ve moved a step up, maybe, but maybe not. They were white, most times male, and they wrote about realities that were far removed from mine. Sure there were universal themes that I could relate to, love and honor and courage and all that, but at the end of the day, it was a different perspective still. This is probably why when I started writing, my stories were set in the Philippines, but they could just as well be set somewhere else – in some white, middle class suburb somewhere, with snow and maple trees and blue-eyed people talking about the weather. 🙂

I’ve since not written any story. There was a period of working and just looking for myself and wondering if writing fiction was what I really wanted. It’s a question I haven’t answered, since my years of journalism has made me want to write real stories, not fictional ones.

As I listened to Adichie, it made me want to write again. But barely. Maybe this time I might just write. 🙂

This just in: New York Times Suggests a Fill-in-The-Blank-Constitution..wonder if that would work in the Philippines?!?

Got wind of this article at New York Times:

AS the Senate awaits the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, a frank discussion is needed on the proper role of judges in our constitutional system. For 30 years, conservative commentators have persuaded the public that conservative judges apply the law, whereas liberal judges make up the law. According to Chief Justice John Roberts, his job is just to “call balls and strikes.” According to Justice Antonin Scalia, conservative jurists merely carry out the “original meaning” of the framers. These are appealing but wholly disingenuous descriptions of what judges — liberal or conservative — actually do.

To see why this is so, we need only look to the text of the Constitution. It defines our most fundamental rights and protections in open-ended terms: “freedom of speech,” for example, and “equal protection of the laws,” “due process of law,” “unreasonable searches and seizures,” “free exercise” of religion and “cruel and unusual punishment.” These terms are not self-defining; they did not have clear meanings even to the people who drafted them. The framers fully understood that they were leaving it to future generations to use their intelligence, judgment and experience to give concrete meaning to the expressed aspirations.

For more, click here.

Buffy Studies 101: All the things I know about break-ups I learned from Buffy

So, in the previous post I said that I thought there was a romantic prospect on the horizon. Well, that was a bust! It came and went in the space of a week and thus I must needs go to the “Gospel of Buffy” to find some measure of comfort and truth in Buffy. I think maybe Buffy can help me get over this heartbreak.

1. Did your groom just leave you at the altar? No problem. Go back to being a demon!

2. Is your girlfriend the emotionally unavailable Chosen One? No problem. Go pay vampires to suck your blood then rejoin the Initiative.

3. Did your girlfriend dump you because you are using way too much magic? No problem. Use more magic.

4. Did your friends bring you back from the dead not knowing you were in Heaven because you are The Chosen One? Sleep with the vampire you hate the most and have earth shattering sex.

5. Did your girlfriend stab you through the chest and send you through a demon portal because your evil alter ego was about to bring the apocalypse? Come back, leave town and establish your own private investigation agency.

6. Did your girlfriend die from a gunshot wound because The Chosen Ones nemesesis (grin) accidentally shot her whilst trying to kill The Slayer? Go bad, suck the magic out of everything, skin your enemies alive and destroy the world.

7. Did you just propose to your girlfriend thinking it’s the end of the world but suddenly change your mind because you’re not ready? Wish for a musical demon to make everyone burst out into song. Then after, right before you get married, abandon your bride at the altar, disappear and appear again demanding that the ex-bride you just abandoned at the altar take you back again. And watch as she tries to eviscerate you.

Hmmm….I don’t have a lot of choices from the above, do I? What I want to do now though is become a vengeance demon. But since that can’t happen, I think I shall go for just randomly bursting out into song and joining an organization that will make me travel to other places. Wish me luck!