I've lived in Melbourne for over a decade, and I'm still surprised at how much this tiny city can get up to. I didn't even get around to checking out the Melbourne International Arts Festival, or the various Film Festivals that were running through the month. One of the highlights of the month this year was attending a Hans Zimmer concert for the first time. I had no idea that Lebo M, the original singer of the iconic opening line to the Lion King, would be there. And I definitely didn't know that Tina Guo was going to be performing for the whole concert.
You might not have heard of Tina Guo, but you'd definitely have heard her music – she's in a slew of popular films as the featured cellist. At this point she's probably most well known for being the featured electric cellist on the Wonder Woman theme. It was a treat watching her perform the Jack Sparrow theme live. She's such an incredibly charismatic performer.
Pax Australia 2019
I've been helping out at my friend Andrew Lum's Aetherworks stall in Pax Australia for years, and it's a blast each time. Sadly, now that I'm getting older I can't do all days any longer... even doing just one day tires me out. Hope the shop did well this year! It's a board games and Reaper minis retailer. Check out their online store: fast shipping too.
Managed to beg off a Pride lanyard from the Diversity Lounge on Saturday. Was asked to name my favourite LGBT+ character in a TV show. I don't actually watch that much TV nowadays, so I kinda panicked and said "Lan Wangji from The Untamed", and then had to go into this awkward spiel of explaining how the book that the Untamed is based on, 魔道祖师, is a danmei novel but due to censorship in China, the Untamed is technically not. The show does get away with a lot though, and is now available to watch on Netflix, if you haven't seen it before. Please forgive the dodgy sfx, it has a web drama budget.
The panels in Pax Australia get better every year. This year both of the panels I managed to find the time to attend were all-Asian and hilarious. Starting with "A Career in Gaming and Disappointing Your Ethnic Parents", which was a little like a group therapy session for everyone on that panel. Some discussions came way too close to home.
The panel I was looking forward to the most was "Objection! Phoenix Wright According to Real Lawyers". I feel like this panel doesn't need any explanation as to why it was hilarious. Personally, I've never finished a Phoenix Wright game -- I tried the first one when a friend lent it to me during a party and kinda ragequit it (I think I was still in law school at the time). The live-action movie is entertaining, though, if you suspend disbelief.
The panelists appeared shocked that there were a number of law students and lawyers in the audience. Well yes, lawyers play computer games to drown their sorrows / escape from this dark and depressing world. Lawyers have the cash to attend Pax. And lawyers will definitely attend a Pax event about lawyers, because we are lemmings.
A++ entertainment, will come again.
I've mentioned before that I've got a love-hate relationship with cyberpunk stuff. On one hand, yes, ~aesthetic. I've enjoyed many of the Philip K. Dick books that I've read, and enjoyed watching the first Blade Runner film. Hyperreal is an interactive cyberpunk theatre experience that takes place in "Neon Tokyo", and it does nail a lot of the modern cyberpunk aesthetic – Asian-esque with token Asians. Was surprised that the MC for the show still dressed up as a cyberpunk-esque geisha despite the furor over geisha yellowface that exploded in Melbourne recently.
Much of the set was entertaining, particularly the planted rooms, but tbh I wasn't sure why Hyperreal even had to do a cyberpunk "Tokyo" aesthetic. After all, isn't one of the most well-known post-apocalyptic aesthetics Australian? Mad Max: Fury Road wasn't that long ago. They could've done a Mad Max themed thing. Maybe not with the bikers and such, but surely not all of the world of Max Max is bikers and modded cars. As to the food, the portions were weirdly tiny compared to Sensory Underground, and unlike Sensory Underground, there wasn't that much effort to adapt it to the theme of the show -- the food was smaller portions of the main restaurant hosting the event, which I'd been to before.
That blowtorch guy was rad though. No yellowface required.
October Reading List
After a few disappointments over the years, I've tried to stop buying books just because they get massively hyped on Twitter and just trust my gut instincts. That being said, I still run into a few duds now and then. Books are highly subjective of course, YMMV. I'd be the first to admit that I'm often quite picky. That being said, I confess, I still unironically love Lee Child books, flaws and all, and devoured his latest, Blue Moon, within a day. His stuff is like readable popcorn. It's not even gourmet popcorn, but for some reason you can't stop eating it once you get the taste for it.
|The Memory Police / Yōko Ogawa||This gorgeously written, slow-moving book, is a story about state surveillance and forgetting. I felt it could've done without the random romance between the author-character and her editor, but welp. Beautiful prose, depressing story.|
|Under the Pendulum Sun / Jeannette Ng||Became interested in this book after that weird drama over the Campbell award broke out. Google it if you haven't seen it – but basically a bunch of people got upset over Jeannette deciding to unload some truth when accepting her award. Intricate world-building.|
|Mongrels / Stephen Graham Jones||This visceral book about werewolves was an incredible, unsettling, and original read, and I'd thought that between AO3 and my early obsessions, I'd read everything there was to read about werewolves. A book about family, displacement, pack, and Americana.|
|Mapping the Interior / Stephen Graham Jones||Another great horror story from Stephen Graham Jones, an original zombie(ish) story about a Native American boy who thinks his father has come back to life. Didn't expect the ending to work out the way it did. Devastating read.|
|Blue Moon / Lee Child||I first got into reading Lee Child books in the hope of improving how I wrote military characters, action, and guns. Growing up in Singapore, I'm pro gun-control: it wasn't until I was 18 in Australia that I saw my first gun that wasn't an airgun. Lee Child also writes the same way I do: he's a pantser, and you can tell from the sometimes rambling nature of his prose. The Reacher books have always been a bit of a alpha male fantasy, but they remain really compelling popcorn reads, at least for me.|
It's been a trash fire month, what with the Ukrainian impeachment, perennial GOP hypocrisy, Brexit machinations and all. Hope everyone stays well. Best of luck for Nanowrimo, if you're doing it.