Bishie - Short for bishounen, a guy so pretty other guys can't resist him either. BL - Japanese term for Boy's Love. Considered Yaoi Lite. DDR - Dance Dance Revolution, a game where you stomp on floor buttons and impress everyone else with your MAD DANCING SKILLZ IRCFiesta - A group of people in the irc channel #comicfiesta who have been online so long we have no idea what clean jokes and sensitive issues mean anymore. Seiyuu - The horribly talented Japanese who voice our favourite anime and game characters. Yaoi - Mangafied gay pr0n. 9000x more appealing than actual anything.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
In which I break personal records day after day.
Listening to: Lacrimosa - Kalafina
Right, CF08 Day 2.
Seeing as it's pretty much over 2 months since, I'm going to look at my diary and sum it up in point form.
- Since I had no costume and I REALLY wanted to cosplay but was too lazy to make my own stuff I had the idea of making a videolog of the event. One particular sequence would have me mocking cosplay while cosplaying a clearly inaccurate Kogami Akira (Lucky Star) and everyone pointing out the hypocrisy. Due to communication error I never made the video, but the idea of cosplaying Kogami Akira stuck. - Deru approached me to borrow a skirt for a cosplay SHE had, and so we struck an exchange. The plan would've been flawless if my waist was 15 inches like hers, though. Not only did I NOT use her skirt, I spent a night picking her alterations so that the uniform would look MUCH looser on me. Dedication to cosplay? YOU BET IT IS. - The night of Day 1 I was STILL thinking whether to cosplay since I didn't have a skirt close to Akira's actual one until my mum pointed out that I DID have a similar skirt... - Everyone's reactions? Priceless.
I can has moe?
- Since Deru and I look similar at a glance, a lot of people saw me and just wondered if Deru was wearing platform shoes or something. Apparently it doesn't take much for me to be in character - either she is scathingly sarcastic and misanthropic (like I usually am) or disturbingly cute and perky (like I usually am in small doses). Bounce up to people, flap my overlong sleeves around and go, "Oha-Lucky! X3" at all and sundry. So facial features + iconic cosplay + radiant cute perkiness = totally Deru.
Except I'm not Deru! 8DDD
- Cikgu addressed me as Deru, Gan said, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND", Dai kept examining me up and down (attempting to reconcile the imagery took quite a lot apparently), and Evilmatter crapped bricks. I don't have one favourite expression because looking at everyone going OMGWTF was so fun. How people can not live for extreme reactions is beyond me. - The weirdest part was when I got swamped for photos. Keeping in mind that I seldom get photo requests for ACTUAL cosplay I've done, this felt weird. But good. I r attenshun ho, but we all know that. - Cosplayers joining the competition got goodie bags that had makeup in them. Unfortunately I took too long to consider joining and never got a bag. Aw. - In between cosplaying and singing, Alfred and his partner (I forgot) had crowd games. One of them was "use Alfred's skirt for GREAT MODELLING JUSTICE" and Sring got pulled on stage. She draped the skirt over her shoulder and catwalked like a mofo. There is no photographic evidence of this un-Sring-ness because everyone was too shocked to do anything. I know *I* forgot I had a camera. D: - When you're wearing a short skirt and stockings...it gets cold. REALLY STONKING COLD. I don't know how do you moe cosplayers walk around sleeveless and tube tops and short skirts/shorts all day. You're complaining why am I not dead from heatstroke? I'll take toasty warm instead of constantly rubbing my legs together for heat, thanks. - Of course Zend's RE Nemesis got into the finals, but not Cikgu's Doc Ock, and the winner was Skye's Sheryl Nome (I REALLY hope this is the end of the Macross F mania) for her fantastic ability to turn tricks. Or perform a trick. Or twist a trick into a song. It was SO in character everyone else could go to hell. Yes all 200 of you. - Strangely despite the impressive cosplayin', only ONE cosplay really impressed me...
The lack of any despairing cosplayers has left me in despair!
You know how we all have one iconic cosplay in our lives? This is Elder's. - Rika sang more songs. Everytime Rika sings a song, an angel gets their wings. - Deru sang. Because Deru rarely sings, when she does Domo-kun stops eating kittens until the song ends. - I almost couldn't recognize Zymz as Krauser. *Almost*. - *Someone* thought it was a good idea to wear a traditional maiden costume without a bra. You know how some gi have their sides exposed? You know how it creates horrible saggy sideboob that nobody wanted to point out? I would've taken a picture and put it all over the internet if I could, if only as a lesson in decency (like NOT EVERYBODY WANTS TO SEE YOUR UGLY BOOBS). - Hung around for WAY too long while everyone had their dinner. Finally tagged along with committee to Pizza Hut while nursing a splitting headache (God please stop this aging malady thank you) and heading home.
So...how was it?
This is the most enjoyable CF I've had since 2004.
This may be completely acceptable seeing as the venue is bigger and the cosplay is better (but the doujin not really), but when I look back, the venue and the cosplay had little to do with it. In fact HP ruined it so bad when I stayed back to see staff take down the set I was thinking "YAY NO MORE STUPID SHREK AD".
My hypothesis? The company I kept (or the lack of it).
Kemu and I thought about how we spent both days in the company of several cliques - Tuna and I parted ways when the hall opened and we barely spent time with each other while I went and mingled and spoke to anyone I knew. That's what CF should be about: It's not just about selling doujin and showing off your epic costume and demanding a Caramelldansen at the end of the day, it's also about making new friends who share the same interest or catching up with old friends you made through CF and this is the only chance you get to see some of them. At one point everyone made it a point to go to CF because the overseas students came back for their hols and CF would coincide so it was the best time to see everyone at once. The people who have the least fun are those who stick to their group and sit in a corner and chat until they have nothing left to do and then leave and blog about what a bore CF was because they didn't do what they were supposed to do. CF is meant to be an exploring ground - see new doujin! Chat with doujinka! Chat with cosplayers! Chat with whoever wants to chat because if *I* can get into a random chat with a guy with a victorian clothes fetish and Kemu can just chat up every Vocaloid cosplayer for pics, *anyone* can! You've broadened your experience this far, why stop now?
Taken as-is, CF is quite boring: here's a hall with constant orange light that kills all your photos with a gallery that didn't have working lights (see pictures that don't glow in the dark...in the dark!), here's a leaky stage with 2 blathering loons, over there is the HP BOOTH OF DOOM, and here's the doujin which if you're not interested in doujin I don't know why you came to CF. If you're not an art student you're going to be *bored* on day 1. That's why CF is "for the fans". It's for you to meet up the wackos you've been chatting to online and actually get some fresh air. It's for you to dress up in silly clothes and think fanservicing the ParaPara machine downstairs with a bunch of cosplayers is newsworthy. It's for you to reunite with friends who've been in Australia for so long you divetackle them at first sight. It's for you to get off your arse and MEET your friends instead of saying "we oughta go out sometime" and never really do until CF where you plan your meeting time down to what colour fingernails you have.Case in point? Sizer didn't attend CF and everyone noticed (but had no money to sponsor her trip down).
I can only hope as the magic of anime and manga and all things geeky dies, the magic of meeting and making new friends never does.
And that is why this CF was so much win. May there be many many more.
Listening to: Saigo no Jikan Ryokou Theme - Tomohito Nishiura
So anyway sometime in December, there was a Comic Fiesta.
Comic Fiesta 2008 20-21 Dec, Sunway Convention Center
I was SO scared it was going to be the ticketing line of hell that was 2007, I went at 8.30 and parked 3 minutes from the main entrance. Last year when the ticketing lines opened at 9, there was quite a line spanning 5 shoplots.
This year at 9 AM not only was I the FIRST in line, there wasn't anyone behind me in line for a LONG time.
But hey, goodie bag! :D A goodie bag that apparently NOBODY got, but...goodie bag! For the benefit of the poor 1000+ folk (gross overestimation I assure you) who somehow failed to get a complete goodie bag/get a goodie bag, full stop, it had:
- Game Time magazine with half the mag dedicated to CF's event booklet - Tiny piece of paper with event schedule - Animasia Artbook - HP Ad - Habbo Poster (comes with certain bags only, but it's not that great - I plastered mine somewhere in the con area and never looked back)
I'm sure there were more to it, but that's the main things I recall.
In any case, the line to enter the hall was longer because everyone had bought their tickets from the external sellers which saved queuing time at the ticket booth.
The hall was HUGE. And COLD. And the boundary between doujinland and sponsorland and stageland was separated by Hewlett-Packard and their advert-spamming booth. A booth which only had two ads, BOTH [HORRIBLE] [MONSTROSITIES] OF REPETITION. You think they're OK? Of course they're OK, now try listening to NOTHING but that for 2 days, 10 hours in a row! Still OK yet? How about HP's grammatically outstanding slogan, "Animation has come to LIVE" (live where?)? Have your senses died out from the barrage of fail yet? I know mine did!
First day for me is always doujin day - that means unless your group cosplay is phenomenal or you have something phenomenal lined up, I'm going to ditch that for wasting money on printed matter.
(By the way, I heard the group cosplay was phenomenal but this time everyone made dramatic recorded skits and had the misfortune to be paired with a bad sound system. Just wasn't their day, I guess. =| )
So there were 60 groups, impressive.
So roughly 40 of these 60 groups were selling non-doujin merchandise...impressive.
It would seem an irony that the ones who were really hawking doujin were those artists who didn't draw anime or were the ones so against the manga movement during the early days of CF but now they're the ones most likely keeping the idea alive; there's the 30-day artist blog, and Sarah Joan Mokhtar (the one who painted the walls at Marmalade Bangsar), and I'm not sure if Yongumi counts anymore because they work mainstream and they've evolved their art into a mix of appealing manga and typical Malaysian style (like Mars & Uranus), and the idea of specialty fandom doujin has finally caught on (Hitman Reborn pairing fanbooks, anybody?), but in an already small pool of doujin, that just means one less doujin for ME to buy.
Thankfully that small pool of doujin had enough good quality to go around for everyone else's smorgasboard of badges and bookmarks and prints (pretty but wholesomely impractical - what am I gonna do, stick them in my locker? On the Axsym? Really now), so it was good. Plus most of the doujinka I met were warm and friendly (SJM gave me TWO prints for recognizing the Bangsar walls!), so it's allll gooooood.
The only bad side was that a some people now think it's acceptable to put their half-baked sketches into an artbook and sell it for RM20 a pop. A note: Unless you are Nomura Tetsuya selling off a concept art book for charity, you shouldn't even be thinking of selling them, let alone compiling into anything that's over RM5. A doujin group once sold an artbook for RM40 thereabouts in 2006, and then released another artbook 2 years later after plugging the first book just about everywhere they could. Not that the artbook was shoddily made, mind - the pages were glossy, the colours printed well, but the layout collapsed towards the end (repeated artwork, I'm looking at you) and in the end I still view it as the biggest pity purchase I ever made. They finally came out with something new and what is this, ANOTHER artbook? This is a group that to my knowledge hasn't come up with anything apart from bits of fan merchandise and a collective of nice DA galleries, and I would TOTALLY want to spring RM35 for another artbook...because?
There was a big discussion between Max and me about doujin shopping and comparing what was worth buying and what wasn't, but I've told you the gist of it, so there. I then dumped my VERY HEAVY doujin load into my car (the perks of having your own transport!) and returned to the event.
Everyone's a better cosplayer now! This may or may not be caused by everyone being Asian, but when everyone gushes about the standard, it's always a good thing.
Since my plans for CF were basically shafted and cancelled and left me with some soul searching about why I liked cosplaying, I decided to not recycle old cosplay and pursued a new goal to capture every single cosplayer on camera (which I almost did, mind). Surprisingly quite a few people recognized me, and the conversation would end up:
them: Ah, you're DM right?! :D me: Ah, nice to see you again! :D them: Why aren't you cosplaying?? :D me: :D.....
I have NO idea what this implies, but I do see the irony because when I DO cosplay, NOBODY ever notices. My mum always tells me that people DO notice what I do but they never acknowledge it, and this has become my pet neurosis because if they're not telling me, they're probably telling it to someone else, and it may or may not be GOOD THINGS.
A conversation between me and Himawari made me think a little more about cosplay motivations:
H: Ah, you don't have any charas you like at the moment? me: That would seem to be the case, yeah. H: *pat* I hope you find someone to cosplay soon yah! me: Ah, thanks!
It does sound like a logical thing to do, find a chara you like and cosplay them, but for me who hasn't had a fave character since PROFESSOR LAYTON OMG FANGIRL SQUEE coff anyway it also makes sense to not have anything I urgently want to cosplay in such short notice nor do I have any intention or rushing out a costume just because I want to. So yes I think not donning a costume every event is rather shocking, but I'll get used to it soon enough, and since I'm leaving my Elaborate Costume of Doom Phase™ (did I ever have one?), there won't be much to cosplay soon anyway.
Ahh, the death of a hobby; how bright its dying light flickers.
The End of Day (EoD)
Suddenly I bumped into MARILYN (OMG) and Guoy (also OMG) and had a brief chat about how the future has treated us before a Dark Knight Joker cosplayer came (OMGWTF!) and suddenly Marilyn & Guoy disappeared and then the bunch of us just loitered on the floor waiting for the clean-up to end before deciding on A&W for dinner to see Deru open her present. It took Tuna and me a DAMN long time to wrap the silly hexagonal biscuit box (curse you Hello Panda!) and Deru took 5 minutes undoing the cellophane, but the reaction? Priceless.
Had a massive headache from lack of sleep (growing old is baaaad) and so went home and conked, the end.
And that was day 1. Now wait another month for Day 2's report!
(Considering I've been working 8 days/week since I returned from Singapore and will likely be doing so until CF, I better put this up now)
Having learned our lesson on Saturday, the AHO-dan decided an entire trip spent in a room with a life-sized Gundam and several hundred DSLR-toting otaku wasn't the sane thing to do especially when you'd forked out hundreds to stay in a foreign country.
So we went to Vivocity instead! 8D
The gang who stayed at The Hive had bak kut teh next door for breakfast. One thing to note is Singaporean bak kut teh uses clear pepper pork broth, quite unlike the dark herbal tea of Malaysian bak kut teh; that was the biggest culture shock we had. Also, Singaporeans don't understand when you ask for "warm water" - you have to say it's *plain* water.
So we went to Vivocity, pulled Kemu away from any shop that had shoes/accessories/sales/all 3, had ice cream at Ben & Jerry's (I can see why they wouldn't bring it to Malaysia - it's not much different from Baskin Robbins), before finally adjourning to Suntec around 12, because even though I had nothing to look forward to there, I'll be DAMNED if I let my SGD8 slip away like that!
By the time we reached Suntec the cosplay competition had already started, so we missed 2 skits.
Skit #3: It's ULTRAMAN! And a MONSTER trampling CITIES!! Corny TV-like sound effects ensue (I am not sure if the contestants recorded it using their voices though). The Ultraman costume was actually well done, so it did feel like one of those Ultraman public appearances.
Skit #4: A Hatsune Miku and Kaito appear. Kaito then breaks out the hojillion & 1 Vocaloid merchandise that all the dealers' booths are selling (SHAMELESS PLUG AHOY). Kaito angsts after being told he sings "old man songs" and Hatsune Miku fills the hearts of Vocaloid fans with warmth and digital singing.
Skit #5: Featuring Code Geass' Rolo (who didn't quite look like Rolo) and his Vincent (which fell apart before it got on stage, but we loved it anyway). Some dialogue, that's it.
Skit #6: Roxas & Axel rape an intriguing and dramatic KH2 scene by inserting every goddamn Disney song into it. The only part of note is when in a fit of Michael Bolton-itis (the song was Go The Distance), the Roxas cosser forgets she's holding the microphone, and when she tries to make an epic arm-sweeping gesture, completely cuts her voice off for a line, effectively censoring herself. XD
Skit #7: Thai Trinity Blood cosplayers cossing as Abel and Esther sing a load of songs while embracing each other. The announcer announced their skit as "Presenting Abel & Nightroad!", which made everyone initially wonder if it was supposed to be some epic Cain vs Abel fight or what. This was later chalked up to announcer ineptitude.
Skit #8: Because we were so far away, we couldn't figure out whether these 2 Hitman Reborn cossers were Malaysian. If they were they not only deserve an award for their ballsiness, but also how they actually threw each other onto the ground loud enough for the audience to cringe.
Skit #9: The announcer said this was "A reenactment from Final Fantasy!" and a FF7AC Tifa cosser came out, so we were HOPING it was her epic fight scene, but NO some punk kid came out and sang MORE Disney songs and harassing poor Tifa. This final skit also had the sad distinction of being the ONLY skit where everyone started walking away the minute the kid lip-synched "I Just Can't Wait To Be King", and to do what? To photograph cosplayers that's what!
The thing about Singaporean cosplays is that it can be *really* good. There's a reason why people gush about how Singaporean cosplay is 9000 times better than Malaysian cossers - might be because the majority of Singaporean cossers are female, thin, and heavily made up with fantastic costumes, but anyway.
However, the laws of yin and yang state that for every fantastic cosplayer, there will be a crappily craptasticular cosplayer, one who sees no need for makeup, the correct wig, or even a costume for that matter. This is the advantage of Malaysian cosplay - due to overall overwhelming mediocrity, there is no OMG AWESOME or OMG AWFUL cosplayer that breaks all barriers of cosplay to become a single name to signify all that is about cosplay. AFA didn't have any of these, but this was likely because cosplayers got free entry, so if there was no quality control everyone would be a cosplayer. That pimply geek with a camera double the size of his head? He's cosplaying a hikokomori! Go right in sir!
When I was walking around, I overheard some girls talking about the popularity of Vampire Knight (VK) cosplayers. Since the anime debuted, the public perception is that in order to cosplay ANYTHING Vampire Knight, all you do is get the costume (which is nifty, but not my thing), style your hair/ get a wig, and tada, beautiful vampire student! Twilight gets ONE beautiful vampire student, Vampire Knight has an entire student BODY of beautiful vampire students. STEPHENIE MEYER EAT YOUR HEART OUT.
Or so you think.
In reality, the girls were complaining about how the point of VK was that the vampire students were *beautiful*. They didn't glow in the sunlight, but they made up for it with overwhelming moonlight radiance in their finely-sculpted porcelain faces and heads and bodies and everything but the hair which is soft and dandruff-free and overloaded with Pantene but pointier teeth and nothing wussy like vegan vampires. VK COSPLAYERS on the other hand think it's perfectly okay to to be 10kg overweight, wear the white vampire student uniform, make no attempt to cover your acne-ridden face with makeup, spray your hair green, wear your spectacles, and TADA you're beautiful!
"Geek Vampire Knight" as they put it, while directly pointing at a lounging group of VK cossers...I'm not putting up the picture; but I have it and you know where to find it.
Of course, the rule of cosplay is that for maximum photographer crowding, it is always advisable to cosplay hot anime du jour characters.
Like MACROSS FRONTIER!
He-llo Mack Ross Eff!
Several blogs pointed out 3 Rankas, 3 Sheryls (with different costumes) and...I don't know. I don't watch Macross F. That should put me right up there with the heretics and blasphemers for talking about Macross F without watching a single episode, but I haven't touched ANY anime since Zetsubou Sensei 2 (not even Code Geass R2, yes), so it's fair.
It also helped that the seiyuu who sings Sheryl Nome's songs came to hold a concert at AFA, so there was plenty of incentive for people to come as anything Macross F. Would MAY'N notice the Ranka horde? Would she call all the Macross F cossers up on stage to dance with her? I don't know, I didn't stay for the concert, and there are many others who blogged about it.
Masako, Mintos, Kazeki, and Sizer had a great idea to cosplay as every single Macross idol in the series. They looked fantastic except they had NO LYNN MINMAY.
They are hot; my photography is not.
Maybe I'm being elitist, maybe I'm nitpicky, maybe I'm just being an ass, but it feels like such a humongous waste to have such a good but incomplete group because the main inspiration for these characters...was absent. The bigger problem is that nobody would care - Minmay is *so* 80s, make way for Sheryl Nome! Galactic Fairy, songbird of the universe, and all that. The significance of Macross F celebrating the 25th anniversary of Macross is partially lost because a new generation of otaku might choose to look only at the new Macross F and nothing else - Sort of like how an entire generation grew up on Gundam W/Gundam SEED, and think it's the be-all end-all of Gundam.
I didn't have much time to mull on that because I had to go back to my cousin's house by 7, took the wrong bus, and found that Cosfest's location is one bus trip from my cousin's apartment. W00t!
Now watch as Cosfest leaves Pasir Ris starting next year.
So...How was it?
If I was a hard core MANLY mecha fan, I would have died a happy person.
If I was a hard core merchandise fan with enough money to buy Iceland, I would have had trouble reentering Malaysia (except for the Immigration ladies chatting and not manning the Xray machine would've let me through but ANYWAY), but happy nonetheless.
If I was in the animation industry, I would have been happily enlightened.
If I was a May'N fan, I would have blogged about [the] [same] [damn] [controversy] about May'N and what happens when she holds a marker pen and runs it across a piece of paper, but still happy I got to listen to her live.
However, I am NONE of those, so while happy, I am not shaking in delightful ecstatic glee. AFA merely reinforced itself as an event that panders to the largest anime demographic, and succeeded. They could have called it MECHAFEST or MACROSSFEST or OTAKUFEST or FIGUREFEST and it would be much better description. Unless they start trying to give the otaku who don't watch mecha more options, I think I'll sit out next year's event.
Translated, it means it's going to be ground-breakingly mind-bogglingly awesome.Start saving.
December 22nd & 23rd Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2008, Suntec Convention Hall, Singapore
As a famous pirate once said, "Welcome...to Singapore."
So there I was in Singapore!
The OTHER queue
SINGA-is it me or the con attendees appear to be horribly skewed towards "overweight, spectacled, sweaty, PSP-playing, MALE" demographic?
The organizers clearly know who they're pandering to; How else can anyone explain the gigantic Gundam model at the entrance?
The Gundam That I Did Not See Till Much Later.
Or the lines and lines and throngs of people grabbing figurines and KKnM merchandise and gundam model kits like there was absolutely nothing wrong with the world economy nuh uh nothing at all sir moving along now?
Or that they brought a gundam designer, a Macross idol (May'n the new Mari Iijima?), and a famous singer of super robot anime as guests?
I SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING THERE.
But you don't want a review, you want my lovely experience. You want to know how I stood at the pre-register line explaining to random people that this isn't the ticket line nor is this the line where you sign up THEN shift to the other longer line to get your tickets, only to realise I could've given my code to Ezel (who was in front) and I wouldn't have had to wait for half an hour! Yes, you want that.
Anyway, I didn't even NOTICE the giant gundam at the entrance until Lacry asked if I'd seen it, and I went, "...what giant gundam?"
Said giant gundam was behind me being worshipped by throngs of mechaholics.
Upon meeting up with Max, Ezel, and KM, we decided to take a look around. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to the crass merchandising empire. Maybe there would be...I dunno, something to get us excited.
So we saw dolls!
Look, Edward Scissorhands!
We saw konapun, which was the Japanese way of taking masak-masak a step further and making inedibly real food!
CAUTION: Not my lunch.
We saw storyboards and character designs! It was probably the highlight of the entire event...except for the part where we saw Vanness Wu & Click Five & Simple Plan involved in an animation project. It's going to be cyberpunkish and GRITTY, I just know it!
(like every anime out there who wants to appeal to a wide demographic, yes)
We saw the 40th Anniversary Shounen Jump display area! It was a 2m posterboard with 6 illustrations of DBZ, Bleach, etc. That was IT. The exhibition was so meagre it crushed Ezel's entire faith in humanity. Look at what you people have done! >(
We saw models. Lots of them.
For Lab <3
Squeenix had a display case, ecchi female figurines had a display case, nendoroids had a display case, samurai gundams on horses had a display case...moving on. Well, how about some merchandise at KKnM? Sure, if you don't mind waiting in line with the other hojillion people queuing up to the entrance...
Due to the press conference and VIP appearances, there was a small buffet spread with finger food. Ezel went and took some despite being neither a reporter nor a VIP, but the man had his undying faith in humanity trampled upon! Surely he must be given compensation!
Ganked an eggtart. Nice!
Looked at the anime previews. For some reason they kept looping a PV for Gundam Sangoku-den. If you've no idea what it is, it's basically Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, but with the characters as SD Gundams. So in the PV you have SD Gundam Zhuge Liang and SD Gundam Idunnowho confronting each other on a dark stormy night over a cup of chinese tea, and those H00GE SD eyes trembling at each other, along with the following engrish text:
"In the GUNDAM, the SANKO soul, which is privy to the awakening of-"
I'm sorry, my brain has actively blocked the rest of the text. It was quite a *bit* of text.
So I thought hey here's a ton of gashapon machines, OOOO here's the new EVA line, let's try it out!
For the record, Singapore uses MONEY for their gashapon machines. You know why the Malaysian government phased out the RM1 coins? It weighs you down and takes your soul with you. Your hands will reek of old metal as you grubbily cling to your precious coins, putting your soul into them in the hopes that you get any of the figurines, just NOT the one you don't want.
So I went to the machine, put in the coins, and twisted the lever with all my SOUL...
...That didn't sound right.
So long story short, I broke the gashapon machine, and the staff told me to pick one randomly, but it was EVA, and it had KAWORU, and that is always the hardest for me to get, so with a sidelong glance and a sweep of the hand, I scanned for a trace of grey hair...
...and won. :D
After that the AHO-dan (Max, Ezel, KM, Kemu, Ken who is Masako's friend, and I) adjourned to the Singapore Bookfest 1 floor above, hung around, then went for lunch and never returned to AFA for Saturday.
So now, we leave you with Iluna's doppelganger doodling at the graffiti wall!
Listening to: The Dark Knight OST - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Half of this review was drafted during one of my ER calls at work. That's how LONG this is going to be.
MOVIE DESECRATION HOUR: THE DARK KNIGHT
(as minimally spoilered as possible)
In the beginning there was a disaster of a Batman movie named [Batman & Robin], and the world lost hope and lamented that the Dark Knight was dead (now that he finally had nipples and was thus a normal human being) and then some guy named Christopher Nolan said HE was gonna be a superhero and bring Batman back to his origins and it was going to be serious and dark and AWESOME because he gave Batman a tank that I know *I* wished I owned. And thus the world was given [Batman Begins] and saw it was truly awesome for it had Liam Neeson and Christian Bale who actually pulled off a young good-looking angsty Batman except for that growling voice that made Batman sound like he smoked 10 packs of cigarettes before putting on his suit and terrorizing the bad people of Gotham and it was all very, very good. Except for the close-up action scenes, because when you're sitting 5th row from the screen all you see are dark smudges and the feeling of being nauseous enough to forego the awesomeness for a sick bag.
And so the world and the fans were happy and Nolan said LET THERE BE FORESHADOWING and produced a tiny joker card at the end of Batman Begins and everyone went SQUEE and it was good. And so Nolan said LET THERE BE A SECOND MOVIE WITH THE JOKER IN IT and it was good but the people had every right to be scared but it was good nonetheless.
And so Nolan announced that Heath Ledger was to play the Joker and the world trembled in fear thinking that no way was some gay incoherent drawling cowboy could possibly be as awesome as Jack Nicholson, who with a big grin and an axe could convince the world that if babies were born with psycho smiles, you had to pity Jack Nicholson's mum. And so the world rightly curled under their beds with old Batman comics, convinced that the alleged homosexuality in Batman was going to come right out and attack them FROM BEHIND, but that's another story.
Obligatory HE'S BEHIND YOU!!! picture.
But then the news of Heath Ledger's unfortunate death came forth and the world stood in shock wondering what would become of this allegedly AWESOME movie until they were assured that the movie was already in post-production and we would get to see whether a gay incoherent drawling cowboy could make an awesome movie even awesomer.
And then the trailer came and there was so much AWESOME in it that everyone knew they would be able to sleep knowing that the Joker would attack them in the night but not necessarily from behind, and it was all good. In fact it was SO AWESOME they didn't even need to put BATMAN in the name of the movie, and so they waited until July.
And then July came and my birthday came and went and [aliens descended and turned the world into glass] the day before The Dark Knight came out and so everybody died and nobody got to see the movie, not even Master Chief. And so that was not good.
The Fear of Bad Story
While The Dark Knight (TDK) doesn't start off with snow and 80 pages of people philosophizing about fear and its many aspects, it also has no intention of giving you any backstory either. So you don't know who's the drug dealer with the sack on his head? Why's Batman holding a gun? Why does it look like Mr Marlboro Bat and Mr Sackhead know each other? Didn't I just see Morgan Freeman in Wanted? Is he going to make Batman bend bullets against Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and Heath Ledger, automatically making TDK the BEST MOVIE EVAR?? Too bad who asked you not to watch Batman Begins; now you'll have to sit through 80 pages of fear like EVERYONE ELSE! BWA HA HA!
From there it shows Bruce Wayne living his double life as billionaire playboy and as some guy in a very inconvenient suit that can't turn its neck and his swanky life in a sucky world of crime and corruption. Every time the police try to corner the mafia, they're one step ahead until Gotham's new district attorney Harvey Dent shows he's afraid of nobody and starts cleaning up along with Jim Gordon (who's not broad-shouldered or a commissioner yet).Granted when he's got Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Rachel Dawes (who got plastic surgery along the way and became an entirely different actress) as his girlfriend, you'll start thinking love will take you everywhere and you don't need to spend years training as a ninja with Liam Neeson to think you're invincible.
The mob's money laundering gets chased by the police so first they resort to a Chinese accountant (who breaks stereotype by being EVIL and absconding to Hong Kong with their money) but that doesn't work when Batman flies to HK (which only reminds people that at night, EVERY CITY LOOKS THE DAMN SAME) and retrieves said accountant.
Then the Joker pops in and everyone says hey what's the worst that can happen?
I suppose the one merit that I can give this movie is that it has twists, not just "oh he's not really dead because he's alive in the trailer and we haven't reached that scene in the movie yet". Each time I think oh it's going to end up this way it doesn't and when I think oh something different's going to happen here, it doesn't. Then Harvey becomes Two-Face (OMG SPOILER like you didn't see it coming) and then the movie gets...predictable.
A lot of the movie's action hinges on how the Joker thinks (if only because he's really the only one causing all the action). This shouldn't be a problem because once you get the idea that bad things can happen to good people, you've got all the twists sorted out. For the 2nd half of the twists you can't get, you just think like the good guys and think about faith and happiness and the innate goodness of man and there you go. Anyone who's played any stealth or shooter (FPS or team) game can figure out the last twist and there you go. It's only shockingly unpredictable if all you've been watching are happy-end hollywood movies or you think Batman is like Superman or you're a sodding optimist, in which case you need to be shot for ignoring Batman Begins.
My dad complained about how everyone's analyzing the movie and its parallels to terrorism and OMG THE AMERICAN DILEMMA and we should all just take the movie at entertainment value. Considering the movie was written by two British chaps and the cast is primarily non-American, it's safe to say that what happens in the movie is not a uniquely American situation. First you've got the Joker with his impromptu grainy videos of kidnapping people and making them read messages or interrogating them in front of the camera and then Harvey Dent makes a speech about whether we should bow to the terrorist demands or support the vigilante who's making the city a better place through collateral damage. The lose-lose situation is something that happens all over the world – either way you've got someone who disrupts your normal life and prevents you from sleeping soundly.
Sure GothamCity's lucky they've got BATMAN, but if Batman's like those peacekeeping armies who burst into your house and shoot everyone because a terrorist *happened* to be using your bathroom, the point's lost. So then Bruce Wayne mopes whether anybody needs Batman because if he's doing more harm than good despite his intentions, maybe it's better if everyone just had ONE thing to bitch about than two.
Obligatory moody Batman picture.
Then Harvey Dent gets HIS revelation and becomes more vigilante than Batman but we can't have that because he's the paragon of virtue and lawlessness! His actions are hypocritical! Lawful good guys don't become chaotic good guys just because they get a makeover! Good thing he's taken care of quickly because that would just mean less screen time for the Joker.
And now let's talk about the Joker.
Why so serious la.
Obligatory hot Joker picture.
We know Heath Ledger is awesome as the Joker. He makes you squirm, he makes you pay attention, he's a snappy (cross)dresser, the movie's boring when he's not around, and he didn't say, "I wish I knew how to quit you" which would've been better than quoting Jerry Maguire. The last part was just *disappointing*.
The fact we know nothing about his Joker makes it even more awesome. The police run DNA scans, clothing traces, fingerprints, dental records – nothing. Chances are his retinal scan would turn up negative too. Makeup hid his face so well I couldn't recognize him. The one time he takes off his makeup the whole scene's in chaos so all you get are fleeting images. That's all you need – any longer and we'd be able to identify him. The Joker doesn't *want* to be identified as anything else but that cackling clownface. Once the audience sees the Joker as-is, the mystique's lost. He's just another caucasian shmoe who's got a ton of stage paint. His anonymity is how real world enemies are – you can't label them, they could be anybody. Sex predator? Your relative. Terrorist? The nice gardener who trims your hedges every weekend. White-collar embezzler? Waddaya know, it's that hot girl you met at the bar yesterday! By not looking like anything you recognize, he has taken ALL your fears, your mistrust in the human race, and put it into one concentrated mass of terror. Why fear your neighbours when you can fear the clown that doesn't even LOOK like a real clown – just the clown who released the lions, set fire to the big top, sexually harasses little kids, and murdered the ringmaster after they got fired for not being funny enough.
But he's more than just makeup, he's an actual clown. Clowns pull tricks they know get a reaction. Clowns spray each other with water and throw pies and fall down because they know everyone'll laugh. It's like gag reflex. The Joker knows what strings to pull, what buttons to push. The Joker doesn't make people laugh, but he makes them cower, he pisses everyone off left and right, and he makes people jump up and react. That's some great button-pushing right there, and he does it well because next to him, humans are really predictable.
That's why he's got no backstory – that'd be predictable. Harvey Dent is predictable because he's got the backstory to justify his evilness (which is why HE lasts 30 minutes). The Joker doesn't, even though he tells several stories about his scar (which I couldn't see anyway). Maybe all the stories are true, maybe none. At first I thought they were giving him justification, and then that went to pot. These days we LIKE our villains to have backstories to give them sympathy, make them human. Sephiroth's madness was more terrifying when he had actual grounds. By that logic Joker's lack of backstory should have reviewers saying they couldn't empathize with Joker and how he sucks and they should give him some flashbacks, BUT this IS the Joker that doesn't work on logic anyway, so it all makes sense.
The best part is that Joker does what he does best with so much passion (which may or may not be trying to sleep with Batman) it's hard not to enjoy watching him. You're not supposed to enjoy him! He looks like he's got Tourette's with all that tongue-twitching! He's a criminal, he Bses every other minute, shoots friends in the back, a flaming hypocrite (either everything's part of the no-plan plan or you don't have a plan, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!), and his jokes are lame (Pencil trick is FANTASTIC lame, but lame nonetheless)! If you LIKE him, you're a degenerate dammit!
…But we do. We adore him. We write glowing reviews about how he will be THE Joker for years and years to come. We have become a mini army of Harley Quinns just stopping short of going BATMAN GO DIE and demanding a Joker spinoff.
When we watch Alfred the butler, we're watching Michael Caine as Alfred. We're not watching Lucius Fox, we're watching Morgan Freeman as Lucius. When we see Batman/Bruce Wayne, we're seeing Christian Bale look better when he's NOT being Batman. Even when Gary Oldman channels Gordon, it's still me wondering how this guy can be Sirius Black. However, when we see the Joker, it's not Heath Ledger as the Joker; it's the Joker as the Joker. That's what good acting does – it makes you forget the actor and focus on their character and you think "Oh man that is one HELLUVA Joker I can't wait for part 3" until the credits roll and it says "In Memory of Heath Ledger and Conway Wickliffe" and you remember OH CRAP HE'S DEAD YOU'LL NEVER SEE HIM AS THE JOKER AGAIN EVER and then you weep.
That's why Heath Ledger deserves an Oscar for this – not because he died for your entertainment, but because he's just that good.
So…how was it?
Obligatory EEEEE BATPOD ACTION X3X3X3 picture.
Christian Bale makes a good Bruce Wayne, but a lousy Batman – his lower face does not make for good aesthetics, and that 10-pack-a-day voice ANNOYS me! I don't know how Lab thinks it's manly, because I just think of strepsils and how much work I have at the microbio lab the next day!
When the credits rolled, I was…sitting there. Deep in thought, fingers steepled, staring at the credits like there were subliminal messages for me to read. Maybe it was the splitting migraine and neck pain, but I wasn't blown away. Not like Incredible Hulk or Prince Caspian or Iron Man or Wanted where there was an adrenaline rush and I was telling everyone I knew it was a damn good movie. I went home, went to work, and even when I told people it was a good movie, I felt empty. I felt like I was lying for the sake of hype because I didn't get the blown away feel. There was a big black abyss of empty in my heart after watching the best movie of the year, this couldn't be right.
As the day went on, more bits about the movie came back to me – the pencil trick, the conversations, the ending. I started analyzing the movie and recalling all the earlier reviews I'd read, and then it hit me.
I want to see the movie again.
I NEED to see the movie again.
I want to watch the scenes again, the details, the plot, the music cues, everything. I want this movie to stick in my head for a while. I want to soak up the details and make sense of the sonar readings (and the sly explanation of why comic Batman just has big white eyeholes for eyes), and see the charas again.
TDK works because while there is a superhero, it's not always about the superhero doing things. While he's doing things, other people are doing things, and an understated Batman works because he's an integral (but not major) part of the crime drama stuffed in there. His equipment's plausible (Mini Arc Reactor made in a Taliban cave, I'm looking at you), the themes about human nature and corruption and terrorism are more universal and relatable (Sekrit WW2 projects involving supersoldiers, I'm looking at you), and you don't need to have read all the graphic novels to enjoy it (though it'd help).
Batman Begins was the movie needed to revive the franchise; The Dark Knight is the movie the series deserves.
The other day I did a meme where I had to list out at least 3 of the biggest things going on in my life.
I got stuck at #2.
As I continue working, I've noticed the steady decline of every other interest in my life. Suddenly the PS2 takes too long to start up, the DS is in my bag which is in the box which is in the cupboard which is in the storeroom which is downstairs which totally takes 300 seconds to grab, anime takes too long to get to the point, books have finer print and footnotes that take up half a page (I'm look at you Lord of The Rings), and everything on TV is a second season of something that used to be more exciting.
Life is starting to take on a duller shade of nothing, and I don't know where it came from. I figure it's probably from working too much, but then I see dozens of people who wedge and grunt and squeeze and MAKE time for their families/hobbies despite working 14 hours a day; I don't even have an excuse since I get 2 days off each time I go on-call. I've made catnapping a full-time hobby, shafting every other activity I used to pursue into the drain.
In the beginning of June I attended the LOTR Symphony. It was entertaining, the choir gave me chills, I was disappointed they couldn't get a boy soprano and I've a movement-by-movement review of the most expensive 2 hours of my life yet, and I can't muster five words for an opening paragraph. Treatise on the absurdity of Utena and the presence of the Akio Car, symbol of adulthood and the power that comes with it? The Utena Gallery came back online with the screenshots I couldn't get earlier (because the website was being revamped) and the screenshots I *manually* took are still sitting in the folder. I've a Nanowrimo left over that I actually got an idea to finish, and I haven't touched it because while the big text box is there, it's the word placement that's giving me problems.
Colleagues say "ooh you save a lot I'll bet you've got tons of cash" but I don't tell themI stretch RM400 in 2, 3 months no problem because I don't have anything I *want* or *need* to get. As the internet got bigger, everything got freer - anime? Download. Movies? Download. Games? Download. Manga? Download. Gay pr0n? Download! Figurines? They're all either of sexy girls or ugly men or giant robots, none of which I have any interest in. The only money I fork out is to pay for the internet bill that gives me all this free stuff; It's like one day I started making money and lost all interest in indulging myself with it.
Of course it's a good thing - what with the prices of everything going up, a little more money goes a long way. Still, I don't think it's something that you need to give up on living altogether. Keep in mind this isn't about surviving - this is about the things that make surviving a little more bearable.
I joined my workplace's [Toastmasters club] because 1) The lady who recommended the club wouldn't stop pestering me about it. Scarier than a church fanatic, I kid you not. 2) It's not like I have anything better to do on Monday nights anyway. 3) Maybe, just maybe, I could revive some lost spark.
Now while this is all good (and I'm expanding my social circle in a sense), I still hold back; I'm not comfortable with people and being around people, and going up to speak is nerve-wracking no matter who or what you're speaking to. They're nice people, and I'm still getting used to the atmosphere, but I'm still trying to figure out where this "holding back" came from.
If psychiatrists were to sit down and chat about me, they could blame my parents for fostering this dearth of passion - I go SQUEE, dad shoots it down in flames. Pretty souvenir from Europe? Dad looks underneath and points out the "MADE IN CHINA" engraving. Heart skipping a beat from a a limited edition figurine? Dad waxes on about how it's really just moulded plastic people are being paid more than me to make. The feeling of heart-pounded breathtaking excitement after an episode of Code Geass? Everyone talking about the same damn thing all the damn time turned me off from the second season. Mum just sits down and watches Korean dramas, and I don't think using those dramas to project her dream son-in-law really counts as burning passion. As much as it would be easy to say yes my parents are screwed up and they screwed me over big time so it's totally their fault, it's really not fair to blame them because I'm currently losing all will to live as I type.
Anand suggests getting a boyfriend will definitely LIGHT MAH FAIYAH, but guys don't tend to like depressing girls. Those who DO aren't the most intellectually (or physically) stimulating of the lot. So obviously to get someone to light a fire you need to have an ember to stoke, and that's what I don't have; So it comes back to the first paragraph about how I have no passion because I feel it's all dying out. Is it from my job? Is it from sitting my arse in front of the computer the minute I get back from work? Is it because no matter what I do nobody's going to appreciate it but me anyway so it's a lost cause? I wish I had an answer and a solution, but that's how life rolls - we can't always get what we want because otherwise we wouldn't need to hope Barack Obama will solve a lot of the current world's problems.
However, we might get what we *need*, but I warn you - I'm still looking for mine.
Last Comic Fiesta was in December, it rolled into January, and we all said "wow we can't wait for the next CF!" and January rolled into February, March, and then I lost my job and got a new one, and June rolled into July, August, September, and before we knew it December had come and none of us had completed our cosplay/doujin projects.
And then we wake up and it's Comic Fiesta all over again.
COMIC FIESTA 2007 15-16TH DECEMBER, TIMES SQUARE
Kemu picked me and Sizer up at about 9. The traffic seemed slow as we headed into the city, but thankfully there were no riots, rallies, police blocks, or rampaging cosplayers that warranted a security lockdown. Parked in the hotel parking lot, left our bags at the hotel storage, then went across to Times Square because Ezel was calling for help.
I found out why.
To say things were hectic was a bit of an understatement. Sure ticketing was OK, but the doujinshi line...not so much. There was confusion over how many people could enter and how many free tickets one got per booth rented. Ezel was covering everything himself, and helpers not associated with doujin booths were dragged in, making everyone confused and handing misinformation like free tissues. I asked him what I could do to help, and he first shoved me a sheaf of papers and go do my job without reminding me what I needed to do (one year is a looong time for me), then when I asked for more instructions he said he'll do it himself. Naoko was no better - apparently she snapped at everyone and once I asked her for tickets and she was busy talking at the counter in plain sight.
At least after that was out of the way, I could finally, FINALLY sit back and enjoy the event go out and get into costume.
Why I torture myself so, I do not know.
Later I met Riko Kojima (who was a Cecille cosplayer, woohoo!), and went for a brief photoshoot with Kemu and Lac. Bunch of guys hung around and heckled us, but that's normal because it's Times Square and it's a cesspool of fashion disasters and retards, sometimes both.
For the first time in CF history, I left halfway to retire to the hotel and take a nap. Figures the more exciting stuff happens when I'm not around - it's the main reason I never leave the hall.
From left to right: Yukina (Ayame from Furuba), Ganners (Gendou from Eva), Kitsune (Kyon from SuzuHaru), Ren (Lelouch from Code Geass), Deru (Akira from Lucky Star)
Later at 7 Tuna, Kemu, and I had dinner with Lacry and Kid at a Korean restaurant in Low Yat - small and friendly with good company, that's how life should be. Then met up with Hisa and chatted some more and then went to bed at 1 with the most creative bed arrangement ever (aka how to accomodate 3 people on a single bed without everyone ending up in a tangled mass of limbs).
I woke up at 6 AM due to two reasons:
- I've never slept soundly on a bed that's not mine. - Heal snores like a mack truck on steroids when he's exhausted. Imagine him doing that for 6 hours straight. How does he not get inflamed tonsils? Why did I not smother him and solve my problems? I don't know.
So I figure better get prepared before the bathroom-hogging starts. It's nice to be the first one up. Always.
Heal DID wake up soon after (more because he was committee), so we took the hotel's free breakfast and had a leisurely chat and all. Food wasn't too bad, plus they had tomato omelettes! Or something. But it was good! Ask Heal!
Since Kemu and Tuna and Kid didn't need to go at ungodly hours, I went ahead at 10 and there was already a line into the hall.
View of CF's hall from the lift of Melia Hotel opposite Times Square
Before I forget, Kid brought in 500 copies of her doujin. It was wheeled in on Saturday on a cart, and you could hear the RUMBLERUMBLERUMBLE of artbooks at least two meters away. Juufan pressed some money into May's hand and said "OK get in line for 3 copies NOWNOWNOW", and I overheard someone carrying a bag of artbooks going "OK I got them AND I got change!" and their friend went W00t, so you can imagine the sort of popularity Kid's art gets.
So I went around in my Pop'n Music costume and a grand total of 6 people recognized me. I think it was less than that, but when you accept the fact that your cosplay is not going to be recognized unless they're Pop'n diehards, you stop caring and try to enjoy the event instead. Look ma, I can SEE the con for once, woohoo!
Chibineko came as Dejiko from Digi Charat, and we instantly became retarded:
Angel came as Puchiko, and her tail was shaped like a loaf of bread sticking out from her skirt. We became even MORE retarded:
Us: EEEEEEEEEEEEEE TAIL *petpetpetpetpetpetpetpet* Angel: Eek! Protect me, my boyfriend! *dives into his arms with her tail sticking out* Us: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *petpetpetpetpetpetpet* Angel's bf: Shoo. *half-heartedly swats our hands away*
Oh yeah, Firn's friend came as a HAWT Balthier.
See? HAWT. You don't think so? Go to hell!
The perils of EXTREME designer board games
This year's cosplay chess had a twist - littered throughout the board were little symbols - land on one and the contestant would have to draw a card where they'd have to do something to stay in the game. Theoretically it sounded good - the problem came up when:
1) None of the chess moves were orchestrated, so someone only got the symbol ONCE. 2) None of the chess moves were orchestrated, so HAWT BALTHIER did nothing but sit down a lot. At least he sat down IN CHARACTER, so that just made him HAWT anyway. X3
The game dragged on too long, and it got tedious when nothing really significant was happening. The biggest highlight had to be Hellboy vs [Kon-pachi] (A Kenpachi cosser with a Kon head, 2nd awesomest thing at the event) and the crowd demanding Death to kill off the remaining chess pieces.
Endgame had the weirdest showdown - the two Kings were set to fight each other, but when your Kings were Seth Nightlord and Queen Esther Blanchett from Trinity Blood.....there was talking....and talking....and the possible conversion of a vampire to Christianity....and that was it.
Went to McD's for a snack with Kemu, Michy, Evil, and Zend (as Hellboy), which got some Middle-East kids staring at Zend for the longest time. The look of awe is always a fascinating look on other people.
So Zend got first since his Hellboy costume was SO AWESOME and HAWT Balthier missed out on Judges' Choice because one Judge didn't agree (shoot the Judges Balthier! SHOOT THEM!), and then there was a big dance session and then the event was over. Had a big group memorial for Rylands after the hall was cleared off, then had dinner at Marrybrown before returning and bumming and procrastinating for over a MONTH before putting up the event report.
So...How was it?
I wonder if the magic's gone.
In 2006, the gamut of emotions I felt is still vivid - the anxiety of whether my costume will look OK and I won't look like an idiot, the anticipation of new doujin to throw my money at, the thrill of being silly with friends and overall soaking up the otaku atmosphere.
This year I scanned all the doujin booths and only kept to budget because nothing caught my attention except for some well-done expensive stuff. Everyone performing a [Hare Hare Yukai dance] every other hour got old REALLY fast (save for Kitsu's performance which actually didn't have moe girls thank god) and there was MUCH less to do than in 2004, even. If it wasn't for HAWT Balthier and AWESOME Judge Bergan, I would've said the event wasn't all that and a pack of beans.
The forum's full of genki people who had their jollies and complaints about the REALLY weird stalker dude in a Vincent cape but still loved the event, and I'm wondering if I'm getting old or I'm being cranky just because the bigger CF gets the less personal it's going to be (obviously) and there'll come a time when I won't even go for CF because it'll be the same old doujinka and same old popular cosplay du jour and the same old everything.
I don't want it to happen, I really don't. .__.
However, it seems to be getting there. Slowly, surely; like a cancer, it'll come and take me away and there'll be nothing I can do about it.
I don't know whether to be happy or sad about it, so until then I'll just enjoy what little of it I can.
I'm back, and I feel like reviewing some stuff (believe me, I've got stuff to review - Code Geass and FF12, for starters...)!
For now, I shall attempt to get back into the swing of things by showing you a co-review of Brave Story I did with [The Great Swifty]. The guy sees more movies in a month than I do in a year, so it was pretty hard to find something we'd both seen to review. It's not detailed, but it's a start to getting back into the reviewing groove.
Listening to: Trusty Bell OST - Motoi Sakuraba, Frederic Chopin
Today was my last day at Haematology. I went WOOHOO.
Then the bench senior mumbled something about bone marrow. I thought she wanted me to go stain the bone marrow slides, so I went to check up on them. She yanked me back:
"I said go collect the bone marrow samples."
I'm sorry I can't hear you because your voice is drowned out by the machines and you can't be arsed to speak louder. =__=
So I picked up the bone marrow kit (slides, formalin, empty blood tubes, biopsy needles, lots and lots of tissue paper), and trod off to the wards.
In the haematology department, technicians are in charge of collecting bone marrow samples. We meet up with the doctor, then go to the patient. The doctor will either knock the patient out, or administer local anaesthetic to the area only (in this case, about 15 mls of anaesthetic jabbed into your spine). Then they stick the [trephine] needle in and draw blood (a [lumbar puncture]). The technician (yours truly) uses the blood to make thin smears onto about 18 slides or so. This has to be done immediately because the blood will clot and then it'll be useless. Finally the doctor uses the needle to extract a piece of bone marrow, which I then use the bloody bits to make 2 more slides before sliding the bit into some formalin so that another department can make some MORE slides for the doctor to look at. I wonder how do they stare at all those slides without going blind or developing a nervous tic/squint, really.
Different doctors obviously mean different patients. Today, I attended to 4 samples by the same doctor.
The girl gets a room all to herself, which is probably for the best since the place looks like her second bedroom. A stalk of plushie flowers at the bedside, lots of colourful striped beanbaggy pillows, a grey teddy bear propped up next to her pillow. I ask her mother if I can move the containers of cereal and food from the table to put my stuff. The food's been there for so long that ants were swarming under the tupperware.
I go to the bathroom to fetch wet paper towels to wipe the table. The sink is cluttered with bottles of shampoo, liquid soap, sweet-smelling stuff; I stretch my hand to reach for the dispenser. Turning on the tap, I try not to knock anything down.
A large green duffel bag stuffed with clothes sits under the table. I move it away and find a 20-cent coin and an animal cracker behind it. The mother apologizes - it's only been a month, but it feels so much longer that the mess has become second nature. I smile and assure her it's no trouble.
Doctor enters, and the mother (and presumably grandma) leave. We put away the blankets, the beanbaggy pillows, and put the girl to her side. Doctor notices the large bruise on her right side, and tells the nurses to flip her over - he's already worked on that spot. He needs an unbruised area.
All the anaesthetic in the world does nothing for the girl; before the doctor can apply the antiseptic, her hand sweeps to her back, trying to swat a nonexistent needle. The nurses assure her the needle's not in yet, she'll be knocked out before that happens, it won't hurt really struth swear to great lallapalooza, but I'm sure she knows that's a lie - if grown-ups cringe and tense when the needle enters, you can damn well bet it won't hurt any less for her.
Even though she's knocked out, I see her eyelashes twitch.
It's not every day you get to see a bald 1-year-old baby. I keep wondering if she got her head shaved or something, since she's got bits of hair on her head.
Doctor waves to her. His eyes smile, since the mask hides his face. Baby stares at him, but raises an arm. It looks like waving, it must be!
The nurses coo, but it doesn't stop her from screaming her lungs out. The nurses pull out a catheter from underneath her shirt to administer the anaesthetic, and she won't stop. I almost catch her screaming "PAIN PAIN PAIN PAIN" in chinese, but I'm sure I'm wrong - I don't know mandarin after all. Baby stretches her arm for her mummy. Mummy grips her hand and its little pudgy fingers until the anaesthetic finally kicks in. Gawd I never thought the screaming would end.
I peek between two large nurses - that baby's eyes are open. It's just not moving. Much. It takes a lot of effort to take blood from a baby; so much so the baby finally stirs. Doesn't help the needle is STILL INSIDE. Baby goes "wheh wheh". The nurses clamp down on the baby, reassuring it. Last thing you want is the baby to start going nuts when there's a 4-inch steel cylinder in its spine, I guess.
Entering the Cancer Ward is a whole new experience - you get the feeling the staff are being happy for the sake of being happy because there's no point depressing everyone else further. While finding the children's day ward, the staff are all smiles and chirpy. The patients though, are another matter; they sit on their beds, staring at the ceiling/wall/you. No amount of greeting them politely helps. If they're not malingering too much about their doom, they might nod at you, but they're not going to smile. Stories about cancer survivors/people being smiley? Ever notice it's seldom a group of happy people? Yeah.
The children's area is yellow - little cartoon wizard mice parade in a marching band across the blinding yellow walls. A tv showing Gummi Bears is suspended so high above I can't hear a thing. I wish I could, because then I wouldn't have to hear 4-5 kids screaming PAIN PAIN PAIN MOMMY I'M SCARED DON'T GO AWAY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY in full dolby 5.1337 h4x0r surround sound. Maybe in a parallel dimension, it would sound like Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, but I'm not putting money on it.
The kid (9 years old) looks healthy - he's got a round face! Bald, but healthy and pink! Though I think the pink is from the amount of yelling he does when he pleads to his mum to please not have to go through this. Doctor pops by and checks up on the boy - he's pleased the swelling has gone down.
The nurses administer anaesthetic, the kid screams, then mellows, then mum goes away. Third time and it's almost routine. Doctor's taking a long time processing things, so the kid just lies in bed and...keeps quiet. Five minutes ago he was screaming his lungs out in 4 different languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Hokkien, English, Mandarin), and now he's just staring at me with a "watcha looking at punk?" face. I swear, kids hate me; I must've eaten children in my past life or something.
When the nurses turn him over, it's not hard to notice the black cancerous tumour at his scrotum. Men all over the world wish for balls that large, though in a more natural, healthy, safe manner.
This kid lies in a bed across from Patient #3, is 3 years old, and has really happy parents. Either he's been in treatment for so long it's second nature for the Doctor and the parents to talk about the kid's treatment like it's a school timetable or the parents are coping in their own weird way. Part of me wonders how much all this is costing them. Obviously they can afford it because they're not on the papers begging like common paupers, but how much work does the father put in? Does the mother work, or did she quit her job to monitor the kid full time? If the dad's accompanying his son on a weekday afternoon, does he own his own business so he can take time off, or did he have to take an extended lunch break? How long have they been doing this that they can be cheerful? Is it a front? Are they tearing up inside when their son cries because he's dreading the pain but they can't because they don't want to and need to be strong for their son? Are they just optimistic their son will be better? I really really really want to ask, but I need to take the samples back to the lab.
Before I leave, I ask the nurse if it's hard for her to be stationed there.
Nurse: Yes, but you have to get used to it. Otherwise you can't work. Me: How long have you been working here? Nurse: Eight years.
In which it's easier to vent here than LJ, but that's just me.
Listening to: Steamboy OST - Steve Jablonsky
So anyway I got a job, and have been working in a hospital for the past 1.5 months or so.
It's considered normal for anyone to ask how's work - I ask people
how's their work, common courtesy and niceties and
conversation-starters and all that. The problem is these days when
anyone asks me how's work, I shrug and say the same thing:
If you're wondering, no, it's not a good thing.
See, people *want* to talk about work - they like to talk about how
their day went, good or otherwise. They want to tell people about the
funny stuff or about the sucky colleague who keeps pinching your
paperclips. They want to talk about the people they meet, the things
they do, the oddities they see.
Save for my parents and Doris, I don't even talk about working life
anymore after the first week of work. In my parents' case, I keep it
brief because I don't want them telling me to "grow a spine" again
after I was a nervous wreck of insecurities three weeks before work
started and made a mistake of telling them about it.
One day after several "S'ok"s, Kelly caught me online and asked, "So, truthfully, how is work?"
I said, "S'ok".
Why is it so hard for me to tell people anything more?
One would be how far my world has drifted from everyone else. They're
all at the last chapter of Odin Sphere, I'm struggling to finish
Gwendolyn's story because work requires me to have at least 6.5 hours
of sleep and I'd rather spend my nights checking net stuff and making
pointless ranty blog posts like this. Same thing with work - how many
people can I talk to about erythrocyte sedimentation rates
and not have to explain the whole damn process and finer points before
getting to the punchline, and by then everyone's forgotten the whole
joke? Cranky doctors not getting their parking lot because orientation
is having a training session there?
many people would understand the insecurities of being expected to know
how to stain bone marrow aspirates despite only having three weeks of
haematology in uni? The frustration of staring at results desperately
trying to interpret the finer points of high/low platelet counts and
the correlation to Large Unidentified Cells? The pressure of having to
pick up the standard procedure of each bench in a month when the only
colleagues who can help are unhelpful? When Doris came back for two
weeks, I spent a day just pouring 1 months' worth of ranting to her
because I didn't have to explain much. We'd just compare notes on
procedures, and the joke would continue.
Secondly is my fault of being deluded long enough to think this was what I've always wanted.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy lab work (hell I enjoy hospitals) - but I
don't feel *happy*. I don't wake up every day going "oh boy today is
going to be fun!" because colleagues are MUCH nicer to students on
attachment in a day more than they'll ever be to me. I spend weekends
in cinemas at climactic battles with a sinking feeling knowing that the
movie will end and I will have to wake up for work the next day. If not
for being buried in work 8 hours a day, I'd spend every other hour
staring at the other hospital I turned down and wonder what would my
life be if I'd picked them instead, or what if I bit the bullet, went
for a writers' course and tried to jam my foot in the literary world
(like what everyone thinks I SHOULD have done seven years ago). People
who work 5 days a week going "oh noes tomorrow's monday" get no
sympathy from me because I work Saturdays, a half-day where I work more
than the entire week.
The first person I ranted to replied:
"Aiyah, working life is like that lah, isn't this what you wanted?"
Years of working to that goal, and now I'm not so sure.
Which comes to the third reason I don't talk about work:
I don't want to hear, "grow a goddamn spine" every time I open my mouth.
I hate whingers. We all hate
whingers. We tell whingers to sit down shut up and take it like a man
instead of sounding like an emo loser.
The first time I was genuinely
frightened about this, my dad told me to stop whinging. Mum told me to
stop whinging. People I thought I could talk to told me to stop
If there's nothing lovely to say, best to say nothing right?
When people read this, they'll
pat me and say it's ok we understand. They don't. They *won't*. These
are people who told me after my first week that I'll be OK and I'll
enjoy it and I'll learn fast; they've also thrown away all knowledge of
lab work never to use it again, or never spilled a tube of blood on
their hands and smeared blood on all and sundry trying to clean up the
mess. If an engineer or a computer programmer came and told me all
and insecurities, I wouldn't get their situation either - and I'm
honest about it. Don't say you can "try" to understand because "trying"
to understand requires 2 years and several thick textbooks, something I
haven't done well either.
In the end it's easier to say
"S'ok" and hope that people get sick of my answer soon enough to
realise it's pointless to ask when they've already got a stock answer
printed in their head. You want to hear the good things? Well here you
go, I'm sorry it's such a boring answer, but that's my job in a