Archive for October, 2011

Click

You know that horrible moment when one of your friends says something worrying? And, of course, you rush to tell them it’ll be okay, that they can get through this and all you want to do is be there for them but you can’t because you’re separated by an entire ocean and a clusterfuck of other barriers, like money and time and goodness only knows what else?

You know how your heart completely drops out of your chest, bypassing your stomach and just cringes on the floor when they don’t send you a message back and you just panic? The tears start slow, burning hot behind your eyelids and you look upwards, trying to stop them from brimming over but they’re a cascading waterfall, they can’t be stopped.

But it gets worse, it always does; your internet dies and you can’t fix it because the university wireless system is a bitch. Everything gets in the way – your phone credit because you don’t have enough to stay online to try and get in touch with them, the wifi, other people texting you. All the while there’s that little red alarm going off in the back of your head, flashing, accompanied by a wailing siren. The panic builds and builds and builds and then just when you think you can’t take it anymore…

Click.

The wireless reconnects.

You have one new message.

Your friend’s phone died on the way home.

Everything’s as okay as it can be.

And you sit on skype with them for the next three or four hours because, fuck sleep, your priority is to reassure them and yourself that everything will be okay… So you regale them with a joke about how bloody awful your life is sometimes and how you’re a complete tit, just so that you have them laughing, in stitches, to the point of tears – the good kind of tears.

I love being able to turn that around. I’m so grateful that I have enough awkwardly humiliating happenings in my life that they can provide light comedic relief for someone that’s so very important to me. Just so long as they’re okay.

I’m a pretty solitary person. I like to be alone and I like my privacy but I could never stand to cut myself off from the world. It’s always good to know that a friend is literally only the click of a mouse or the click of a phone key away.

Click.

Just a reminder

I need to review Woochi the Demon Slayer. And buy it myself for DVD (currently borrowing my friend’s copy).

It. Was. Amazing. I loved it. There’s, of course, a few flaws in it but who can ever say a film is completely perfect?

I’m going to leave it a few days to review it whilst I get over my newfound mini-crush on Kang Dongwon. He really owned the role of Woochi in this so I think I may have to check out a few of his other films.

Serious level of want.

I’m a bit of a Final Fantasy nerd, I must confess. I’ve played some of the early games but I love Final Fantasy 7 and 8. I think the storylines are brilliant. Final Fantasy 9 was a tad disappointing and 10 was mostly just pretty to look at – although if you take a closer look at it, the protagonist’s character development throughout the game was incredibly well done – but mostly I am a 7/8 girl.

Guess what I just found on eBay. Cloud’s Buster Sword A work of art.

I would love to have a collectible like this, although at $650, it’s, erm, not gonna happen unless I by some fantastic stroke of luck win the lottery or a leprechaun visits me with a pot of £50 notes.

Of course, it’s not just the whole finance issue that puts me off getting this. It’s also the fact that I would probably try and pretend to be Mr Strife and end up severing several of my own limbs. Coordinated, I am not.

But, hey, if you’ve got $650 to spare (free shipping!), have a gander.

Creep

Currently trying to persuade one of my American friends not to watch Creep; I watched it a few years ago and never made it the whole way through because it terrified me and made me feel physically ill. I also now have a teensy bit of a fear of taking the late train home.

So, yeah, spending my Friday evening trying to dissuade her as she’s a year or two younger than me and she lives in New York so she takes the train daily at pretty much every hour of the day. Plus she hates scary movies.

“EVEN THE POSTER IS CREEPY.”

Well, I did tell you.
ಠ_ಠ

#2 Rainy Days – One Way

One Way – Rainy Days (English unplugged ver.)

One Way are… I guess you could term them an indie/independent r’n’b hip-hop group? Three friends who work together writing and producing music not just for themselves but for a number of other artists as well. They take a lot of inspiration from the classic jazz and soul musicians and if you listen to this or this, you can really hear the influence in not only the song choice but also Peter’s vocals.

Fluent in both English and Korean, the tracks on their mini-album and full-length album combine these two languages in a perfectly fluid fashion, easily conveying a broad spectrum of emotions with a song suitable for any mood that takes you.

Rainy Days features Junsu of 2PM and, in the unplugged version, the acoustic guitar is played by Charm Park. The soft lull of the guitar and the backing track of gentle rainfall don’t dominate the song or detract from the stunning harmonised vocals of Chance (Michael Kim) and Peter (Peter Hyun) during the chorus or the carefully paced rap of the group’s youngest member, Cho Junyoung (known on stage as Young Sky). Instead, they enhance the song, adding to overall mood and meshing seamlessly with the varying vocal layers.

Considering how difficult translating back and forth between Korean and English can be, given that many words and phrases don’t always translate perfectly or have an English/Korean translation, Rainy Days has a smooth composition and is easily comprehensible, regardless of whether you listen to the English unplugged version or the Korean edition. The empathetic song flows as easily as rain downhill, no hitches or awkward pauses. Despite the melancholy tones in the lyrics and the music, this song is surprisingly calming. It has a cathartic feel to it, a sense of release from the tight knot in your chest from a tough day or a bad break-up; after listening to Rainy Days, there’s the sense that things can be approached with a more level-head and a clearer outlook.

For the last few years, I’ve had people ask me ‘How can you listen to music in a language that you don’t understand?’ The answer is really quite simple: music itself is a language – and that language is universal. The Hallyu Wave is making Korean music more approachable for many western fans and Japanese music has long been popular with western audiences (consider Japanese pop, Japanese rock, visual kei, etc), if only in a niche audience which has grown over the years.

To understand the language of the songs that foreign artists produce is easy enough; people post translated lyrics daily. But to understand the music emotionally is all up to you; how a song makes you feel, what mindset it puts you in, whether you like it or not shouldn’t be dependent on if you can translate the words you hear instantaneously. If that weren’t the case, then how could anyone, as an example, enjoy dubstep or wordless dance music? Personally, I find it elitist to want to limit a certain language or genre to a specific culture, gender or country. The artists themselves wish to expand globally and, even as a writer, there is always that idea in the back of our head that it would be really cool to have a piece of work translated into another language.

Regarding One Way, it could be said that they are a perfect gateway into Korean music with their talented blending and weaving of both languages. Their music is approachable on most levels, fusing pop with hip-hop, jazz, r’n’b, soul, dance beats. One of the greatest things about One Way is their cohesiveness as a group whilst still maintaining their own individuality and being able to hold their own as a solitary unit. That’s not to say they’re perfect; everyone has off-days but One Way are constantly learning, experimenting with and experiencing new things.

It’s a lesson all artists can learn from – musicians, visual artists, writers. To improve our work and better ourselves, we have to be willing to put in the effort and hard work, push our boundaries and stray from our comfort zones without clutching a map as a safety-net.

Damn it, Avex.

So I really wanted to share a song but, er,

  1. The full thing isn’t on youtube due to copyright mish-mash that tends to frazzle my brain
  2. I’m not paying for an upgrade to host audio files on here.

See, this is why tumblr is so much better than wordpress.

Anyhoo…

Tohoshinki (a.k.a Dong Bang Shin Ki, TVXQ!, DBSK) – I Think U Know is one of the new songs from their latest Japanese release, Tone. My mind is usually blown when Korean groups release songs in Japanese (mostly because I get so used to certain sounds) but this song is one of the best Japanese songs I’ve ever heard. It’s on iTunes for a delightfully cheap £0.79 so if you have money to burn and are all for broadening your musical horizons, go forth and splurge – it’s a damn sight cheaper than ordering the album and having it shipped where it’ll cost anything from $15 + shipping, all dependent on what kind of album you get (Korea/Japan package their albums amazingly. I’ll photograph my collection for you one day).

RE: I Think U Know, say what you like about auto-tune but when it’s used properly, it’s fucking fantastic. The song itself sounds like something fron one of those random clubs you stagger into halfway through the night, blasting some kind of ultra funky techno-rocky dance beat. But in Japanese. Mind-puddings.

Preview it here: click.

Also, just a warning, but I am an avid kpop fan (this from the girl that used to be into pop punk, metal and 80’s goth… actually I still like that stuff, bring it) ergo it’s going to crop up on here a lot, no doubt.

Fan Fiction: Love It or Loathe It?

I got to thinking about this the other day after my friend tweeted me saying she’d just found all our old Star Trek and vampire/werewolf fan-fics on her laptop. I actually asked her to send them me as I lost them when I had to get rid of my computer tower and had no external hard-drive to back them up on. Moving on from my own idiocy…

Ah, fan-fiction. A genre of writing that encompasses almost everything out there from Star Trek to band-fic, to game-fic to adding your own fan-canon to an already established series (e.g. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Firefly, World of Warcraft, Everquest) and on and on… and on… Personally, I’ll confess a love of fan-fiction, dependent on topic and – snobbishly, perhaps – good spelling and grammar. A few mistakes, I’ll happily forgive. My mum told me the other day I have a kind of elitist ‘intelligence’ in that not everyone ‘can be as good as you when it comes to spelling and grammar’. Hi, Mum, I love you but I do have my failings in this area. Nobody’s perfect.

Anyway, back to the point. Fan-fiction is all about fandoms (would you believe it?*) and a good deal of fan-fiction is about ‘ships’ or ‘OTP’s’ (one true pairings). People can write about anything from relationships between existing characters, to adding new ones or simply expand on the in-genre canon or even create their own narrative line, borrowing from the main elements. For me, I’ve dabbled in pretty much all of the above (I still have a quizilla account lurking online somewhere with my old band-fiction works). The best part about fan-fiction (provided you’re not obliterating someone’s copyright) is the escapism it provides. Some worlds read better than the one we live in; even though there’s dysfunctionality everywhere, at least we have more control over this fantasy world. Fan-fic is tailored perfectly to our escapism needs, the door to another world where we don’t have to deal with the mundane of our own personal lives.

I’m of the opinion that people shouldn’t discourage fan-fiction as a genre (especially ‘well-written’ although that depends on your own personal tastes). It’s not just for angsty fourteen year olds in love with Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance or that one guy from Inuyasha. Fan-fiction is for everyone because everyone is a fan of something. It borrows from so many genres and works in any narrative voice. There’s so much you can do with the genre (as with other fictional creative writing). Of course, there’s always the chance that, whilst writing it, you can write quite auto-biographically and project a lot of your ideals and your hopes for your life onto your characters – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But as with all writing, it’s a constant challenge not to write as yourself, to write as someone else. Everything you write provides you with the opportunity to develop your craft and improve as an artist. Yes, writing is an art.

I’m not ashamed to say that I still frequently dabble in fan-fiction myself; for me it’s part-escapism, a way to give my friends in other countries a ‘birthday gift’ by writing their favourite couple and it’s a chance for me to try and improve myself as a writer. The genre’s given me the confidence to try so many different styles of writing and work with different perspectives. I’m still working on not writing myself into my characters quite as often but that’s always going to be a challenge as I’m quite introverted and tend not to want to tell people all my inner-workings (so it all comes out in my characters ಠ_ಠ).

…That said, if you were to ask me to share any of my own fan-fiction with you, I’d be a tad reluctant. I like my anonymity sometimes. One writer whose work I absolutely adore is a girl on livejournal, coley-merrin. Coley writes mostly for a fan-created pairing titled KyuMi/QMi (Kyuhyun and Zhou Mi of Korean boy-group Super Junior with various sub units including the Chinese Super Junior Mandarin or M). Her works tend to be set AU (alternate universe) and occasionally a little ‘rated’ (i.e., sexually mature, NC-17) but even if you have no idea who Super Junior are (shame on you) her writing is amazing. For me, personally, she captures emotions and translates them in such a way that is easily understandable and empathetic. Sure, some storylines may come across as cliché, but she makes them work. Check her out!

I’ll try and remember some of my other favourite authors from the kpop (Korean pop) genre and post links to them from time to time. Just a quick warning though; if m-preg is mentioned anywhere, run. Don’t even click it to read it. It’s scary stuff. Very weird.

So what’s your opinion on fan-fic? Hate it, love it, neutrally inclined? Have any of you ever dabbled in it?

fin.

*any news on when that sarcasm-font’s being brought online?