What’s So Scary, Anyway?

What’s So Scary, Anyway?

What scares me about the latest end-of-the-world sci-fi movies is that they don’t seem at all farfetched. 

So I’ve watched a few more movies than usual this couple of months – mostly ‘end-of-the-world’ types (Pacific Rim, World War Z, and a host of older classics) because I’ve been feeling kind of macabre.

Yes, I adore a well-paced blockbuster with a good director and costume/special effects team. In fact, when I was younger, what really spooked me about these flicks were the special effects. Who can forget the original Aliens of 1986, right?

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Since then, I (and probably the rest of the world) have grown more de-sensitised to all manners of monsters, and today, it’d take more than slimy black raptors to leave an impression. In fact, Aliens vs. Predator was nothing more than a strange kind of sci-fi WWF (World Wrestling Federation) stunt. I can totally imagine Dwayne Johnsone throwing the same moves.

February 16th, 2010 @ 17:59:41

That said, it made me realise that what really scares me about these imaginary worlds today is not so much the acid-dripping extraterrestrials or even half-decomposed un-dead, but the fact that these end-of-the world-scenarios don’t seem at all farfetched.

The premise of harvesting aliens scouring space for a planet to invade (Pacific Rim) is very plausible because we, as a species, are also fast exhausting our earth’s natural resources and habitability. (If you remember planet Earth in Wall E, you’ll realise that it looks exactly like some of the sprawling landfills today.) And when we do finally kill earth, is war of the worlds so implausible?

landfill trucks dumping

As for Zombie flicks like War War Z and Walking Dead, well, three things terrify me most about them:
1) The number of super-viruses today
2) The overwhelming sense of alienation
3) Mass and uncontrolled paranoia
Basically, it’s the “shoot ‘em before they get you” mentality that is really so pervasive in our world. People manufacture guns for kids <link>, countries start pre-emptive strikes, and well, we’re just accidentally killing so many people. I’m really not sure how my future children will grow up, regardless of zombies and aliens.

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Picture from wordsmoker.com

Creepy Superhero Pickup Lines

Creepy Superhero Pickup Lines

What would Wolverine, Batman, Superman and Spiderman say if they met a girl at a bar?

What about these?

If you ask me, they might just work, really. And if they don’t, I blame my warped imagination and immense boredom.

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Note: Listen to Rihanna’s Diamonds and imagine Edward singing it to what’s-her-face.

Waste Land

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Who doesn’t love a transformation? What can be more inspiring than watching an underdog rise from the dregs? Isn’t that how Susan Boyle shot to overnight stardom on The X Factor? If she had been your average, well-adjusted middle-aged woman, who would have given a damn about her old-fashioned musical number? Her magic formula was her visible metamorphosis onstage from classic misfit to soaring songstress, with an apt song choice that accompanied her ‘unreachable dream’.

That is what Waste Land (2010) is about. It is a story about making art with garbage – trash from the largest landfill in the world (Jardim Gramacho) and the ‘human trash’ that dwell in it. It is a land the polite society would love to forget – a land where human ‘scavengers’ lurk around trucks heaped with decomposing dregs the rest of the world throws out.

When you throw out old yoghurt, leftover dinners, films, books, bits and pieces of your past that no longer have a place in your life, they end up there where they are sorted out and recycled, eaten, and sometimes even read and archived in a library somewhere on the sprawling 321-acre open-air dump.

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The documentary is about how Brazilian-born, American-based artist Vik Muniz collaborates with a group of catadores – he takes their portrait, magnifies it and projects it on the floor of an art studio. And using a laser pointer, he directs pickers to recreate their own image with garbage, which he photographs as finished artworks. Proceeds from the prints and film (approx USD276,000 ) went back to the pickers.

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Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 8.56.06 AM

You can view the finished artworks here: http://vikmuniz.net/gallery/garbage

That said, it is not the artwork that drives the film, but the lives and dreams of Muniz’s artistic subjects – their hopes and disappointments. Some of them have lost their families, some, their pride. Some of them hope to build a library, some hope to find love…

Ultimately, the film is about the power of art (both the portraits and the film itself) to transform these ‘social rejects’. As a movie, it’s not quite X-Men. The protagonists won’t sprout adamantium claws or grow wings, but I promise you, they evolve into something no less beautiful.

One of my favourite quotes from the film comes at the end. Muniz says:

“A lot of them were low, middle-class people. For some unfortunate event, they just ended having to go there and live in the garbage. On the other hand, when you see the appetite for life that these people have, and the way they carry themselves – it’s just inspiring. Even if everything went wrong, you could still be like them. And they are beautiful.”

In the vein of Forrest Gump and Slum Dog Millionaire, this is the ultimate underdog film. Perfect if you are feeling low and need a pick-me-up. But what do you think about critics’ suggestion that the movie is exploitative? See The Guardian’s review.

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The Escapist’s Atlas

I’m having a gloriously bad week. It’s like the universe chased me to the last known corners of the world and collectively took a dump on me. But because I don’t want to wallow (completely untrue) and also because I know I should do something useful to improve things (like pretending I’m not actually here), I’ve decided to wake up early and plot a grand escape (I’m terribly task-oriented like that). And these are the five best hideouts I’ve found.

Sometimes, you have to roll up your sleeves and prep for battle, and other times, you just need to dream up a fortress and garrison it well. Because if you inhabit a beautiful fortress in an imaginary world, you become impenetrable in the real world, right?

TREEHOUSE in Kamishihoro, Japan

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If griffins were alive (or X-men griffins, for that matter), they’d live here. This bird’s nest treehouse realises all my childhood fantasies of running away from the world, building my own fortress and living amongst the birds. Interestingly enough, it was created by the Nestlé people for a Néscafe commercial and is now off-limited. Incidentally, it also has a lovely spiral stairway, in case you just don’t feel like flying today.

GLASS HOME in Milan, Italy

Glass House

All the white witches of the fantasy world must inhabit a space like this – pure, crystallised and charged with elemental magic. This blue-tinged glasshouse is the vision of architect and glass designer Carlo Santambrogio and sits in the middle of a wooden clearing. Everything, including the floor, stairs and furniture are made of glass. Acrophobes (those who fear heights) and scopophobes (those who abhor being stared at) are advised to stay away.

DESERT HOME between Vegas and LA, US

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As this design blog astutely puts it, this 360-degree home on a dormant volcano looks like the lair of some super-villain – good to note if you have any world dominion or elaborate revenge fantasies. If you’re particularly morbid, turn your thoughts to how some apparently ‘dormant’ volcanoes have erupted again.  The surrounding landscape is an apocalyptical wasteland and conducive to all matters of deep, dark melancholy.

IGLOO VILLAGE in Lapland, Finland

From www.myinterestingfiles.com
Pix from http://www.myinterestingfiles.com
Pix from www.hotelchatter.com
Pix from http://www.hotelchatter.com

In case fantasising is not enough, and you really want to go somewhere, this igloo village is actually part of a hotel open from December/January to end-April. They’ve got traditional snow igloos and futuristic glass igloos, where you’ll enjoy first class seats to nature’s most spectacular dance – the northern lights.

ENTIRE ISLAND in Iceland

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If you really need time out from the world, you may want an entire island to yourself. Interesting story: After Björk put Iceland on the world map, Iceland reciprocated by (literally) putting her on the map as well – they gave her an entire island. Elliðaey, off the southern coast of Iceland, now belongs to the eclectic singer-songwriter, and is only accessible via helicopter, boat or rope. According to a blog post by Maryam Shamlou, the house on it doesn’t belong to Björk though. It is a hunting lodge for puffin hunters.

The question is: if you had an island to yourself, what would your fortress look like?

My other grand escape plans include: Bucket List Spas and My Ashram Experiment.

What My Chihuahua Taught Me About Making Small Talk

What My Chihuahua Taught Me About Making Small Talk

Another one from my Chihuahua Series. As you can tell, I can’t draw, and my sexy women’s legs look like they’ve been twisted in a fall. But my own overweight chihuahua insists that underdogs have voices too, and that they deserve to be heard as much as anybody else. And I’m just trying to be a good mummy to her even though she always tells me I’m full of shit.
On that note, happy weekend-socialising!

Chi ST 1

Chi ST 2

Chi ST 3

For more chihuahua rants here: Monday Blue Pooches

What My Mother Taught Me About Beauty

What My Mother Taught Me About Beauty
A Mucha print from http://graduate-extraordinaire.blogspot.sg
A Mucha print from http://graduate-extraordinaire.blogspot.sg

By the age of four, my mother taught me everything I know about being a woman.

As a little girl, my first memory was of her in red lipstick, stepping into a garden abloom with yellow miniature roses, purple orchids and dainty West Indian jasmines – the perfect picture of grace.

A picture of my mother
A picture of my mother

She passed away when I was four.

Later, I learnt from my father that she’d been struggling with respiratory problems all her life. But nobody seems to remember how weak she’d become. Staring into her coffin, what I saw was a poised and beautiful woman. And throughout my confused teenage years, I struggled to emulate her beauty and grace.

Thus I grew up in a confused and complex world, and like so many other, floundered through many moments of fear, self-doubt and heartache, seeking wisdom in books and forgetfulness in films.

But whenever I felt like I’d truly hit a dead end, I’d hit the road again and meet many amazing people through my travels – poverty-stricken India women with the most vivid dresses I’ve ever seen, a 70-year-old Japanese woman with the brightest purple hair, a breast cancer survivor finding love and intimacy after mastectomy…

From www.ericsstudio.com
From http://www.ericsstudio.com

Only through their eyes did I finally begin to see my mother’s true legacy –
her parting advice to me was not merely how to be beautiful, but one of enduring strength and hope in the face of pain, uncertainly and death.

She was the first person who helped me understand that a woman without breasts is no less beautiful, bright purple hair on an old woman can still turn heads, making the effort to wear lipstick when you’re very ill is a final act of defiance, and planting flowers that you may never see is the greatest leap of faith.

Beyond all the designer dresses and makeup, that is what it means to be a beautiful woman.

If you like this, you might like: WanderlustOlfactory Journeys and Bucket List Therapies