Middle Kingdom Musings

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Latimer: I’m back! For reals, not from a place of scheduled posts! Yup, my epic trip around China has ended and I’m now suffering from a major case of ‘holiday hangover’. You know the feeling; ‘It hurts so bad! It’s over!’

I think the only cure is to go on holiday again… *cue sneaky smile* well, maybe you never know!

Basically this can be applied to holidays too o_O
Basically this can be applied to holidays too o_O

But for now let me rewind my memories – do you want to come with me on a trip to the Middle Kingdom? Sure you do! Let’s head back in the way-way-back machine! This will either be cathartic or depressing for me. If you look to your side at any point and see a smiling Latimer, good times, if she’s weeping, please take a moment to comfort her J

So, this trip was a reward for me finally finishing college. Yes, I was still in college; institutionalised possibly (definitely). Thankfully, the ending was a good one (i.e. piece of paper, awarded – just need to dot the i’s etc) and so, I was off I went to CHYY-NA (or ‘wild CHYY-NA’ as I kept calling it) with a travel group.

First the long-haul flight… okay so, I don’t sweat them much anymore, but they are still annoying. I’ve been on a lot of them, so I know my pattern pretty well at this stage; a) I can’t sleep very well and b) I can’t eat the plane food (can’t even stomach the smell of it). I literately recoil when the steward/ess trusts it under my nose – “no! No I don’t want it! Please don’t make me…”  

So, knowing this at the airport I’ll stock up on essentials (food and water), like someone planning for the zombie apocalypse (where we’ll only be able to get crap, ‘it’s bad for you but who cares there are zombies’, food). This time, in the wonderful Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport (this is our really fancy new (ish) terminal), I found a nice shop to buy sandwiches in, which may not sound like much, but when you are contemplating your fear of airplane food it does mean a lot!

Oh and by a nice sandwich, I mean, one that doesn’t contain mayonnaise (for some reason this type of sandwich is hard to find). In this shop I found a plain cheese sandwich (I almost wept for joy). Then I nipped around for some water, Hula Hoops crisps and a chocolate bar (these bad boys will pop up again in China). 

On the flight I stayed away from the plane food and scoffed down my sandwich and water. Then when I got to my layover in Dubai (that’s a new, semi-novel stop for me; what a nice airport it is), I got some food (a stir-fry, easing myself into the Chinese food) while I watched my gate for my Beijing connecting flight.

I gulped down my food getting a bit nervous about when my flight would start to board. Then I had to fight the rush of Chinese people trying to board the plane. It was a bit of a free-for-all; even though the airline was calling out the rows that would board first, it seemed like people were having none of that. I had to push my way up through the crowd to board (as my row had been called, not because I’d turned into the Hulk and just decided it was ‘my time’ to board, people be damned).

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After a bit of a wait, we were off to Beijing!

When we were close to landing, I started thinking about transportation from the airport (like I always do). I start to… not worry, but overthink it? This is the part of my holiday I research and research and print out very piece of information before I leave my house (unless Ridley is travelling with me, then I use her like a GPS and guidance system; she is basically a map that you can interact with and befriend, haha. Seriously though she knows she’s part map)!

So touching down in Beijing, without Ridley, I was armed with all the information and warnings internet could provide me on – a) fake Chinese money (and how to detect it; it’s all in your Mao’s ladies and gentlemen; run your nail over Mao’s hair, if it’s ridged your note be real, if not your note be fake and no Chinese person will take that bad boy off you – tip, always check your Mao’s!); and b) getting a taxi from the airport.

Ah, one thing about getting a taxi in China; don’t get the black taxis. These are fake and they’ll over charge you.

Okay, fair enough I thought, I’ll not fall into their trap, oh no, I am an informed Westerner!

“Stay in the queue for the taxi” – the internet warns you, “don’t let someone lead you out of the queue! Look at the locals!”.

So, what happens when I get to the top of the queue and the people directing Chinese people to their taxis carefully ignore me?

Oh yeah, some man comes up and takes my little piece of paper with the hotel’s name on it and reads it; “I can take you there!” he says in English with a smile, trying to lead me to his black car.

Oh hells no!

I smile, laugh, take back my paper; “No thanks, I’ll wait here” (inside growling Wolverine style: back off bub!)

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The thing is, the people directing people to the taxis, they backed off and let him try and lead me off; after he didn’t manage it they were still half-ignoring me. It was very strange. Basically they know what’s going on, but it’s like, “oh well let him have a go”. Not cool ladies.

Later I found out that one of our travel group did get one of the black taxis and ended up paying 100 USD for the trip that cost me 12 euro in my registered taxi (12 euro = approx. 16 USD – a BIG rip off!).

My first taste of a taxi ride in China was strange – my taxi driver hacked and spat out the window three times (as we were driving, amazing dexterity). I was staring, then cringing in amazement – where was I?!

Then I started to notice other odd things. He had an empty glass jar of coffee resting next to his gear stick (phrasing!). There was liquid the colour of pond water in the jar, and what looked like twigs and leaves gently tapping against the glass; like something you’d find in a science museum from the 1800s. Me staring stupefied at the jar as he gulped down the contents and zig-zagged through traffic (there are no rules of the road), kept me occupied for the whole trip. I’d come to see this empty glass jar and strange contents again and again and again over my trip (it’s tea, or something, but it looked really weird straight off the bat!).

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Another top tip from the internet was to always have your hotel address written in Chinese and also to have the phone number of the hotel. Thank you great and noble inter-web, you saved me there too!

My taxi driver had to call the hotel to find out where it was. And even though I don’t speak Chinese, I could tell he was saying; “Where the hell are you? I’m out here on the street and you’re not here – haha, what the hell? Where? Oh… hmm”

He ended up dropping me off on the side of the street, gesticulating and shouting in Chinese at some building hidden behind a row of other buildings. I stared at it.

“Yeah, I got yah.” I said nodding and pointing at the hidden building (my hotel’s name emblazoned on the very top of the building). The taxi driver watched me as I walked across the street; then started shouting at me in Chinese and pointing at the building again.

“I know!” I called back, nodding again and struggling to find a way through the row of buildings that blocked my hotel. Why was it hidden behind a fortress of other buildings? How did one get inside? Did I have to walk through the small convenience shop in front of it, was there a way through it or what the hell was going on? I felt like Pacman caught in a corner!

The taxi driver was driving away by now, slowly passing me as I walked up and down the street trying to figure out a way through the buildings to my hotel. Would I have to tunnel through, like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank?

The taxi driver starts shouting at me again and I just know by the tone and his actions what he’s saying – “Hey! Idiot, your hotel’s there! It’s right there you foolish girl!”

And I reply laughing (but frustrated); “I know! I know! Thanks!” Then I watch him shake his head and drive off. I stare at the guys outside the convenience shop (who are staring at me too). I make for the door, dragging my wheelie bag with me. They talk to me in Chinese and point down the street and make the universal ‘around the corner’ sign.

I nod. “Thanks lads!” and walk off towards a car park barrier. I stare down the lane; it looks like an office car park or something. Shrugging I walk down and turn the corner, finding my hotel nestled in an odd little courtyard, hidden from the rest of Beijing (and mankind).

The combination of jetlag and culture shock has me buzzing by this point. I meet up with my group and our Chinese tour guide (and I am only semi-conscious) and we go out for Peking duck. My mind is racing from lack of sleep at this point; “god it’s colder here than I thought; why is it called Peking duck… I really want to go to bed but I have to have a shower when I get back… plane rides make my hair greasy… I really want to go to bed!”

Yup, and so ended my first day in China! The adventure continues 🙂

Next post: Walking Along a Wall

Latimer watches… Spirited Away

I want my own Kohaku dragon... just like I wanted a Luck dragon... when will I get a dragon?!
I want my own Kohaku dragon… just like I wanted a Luck dragon… when will I get a dragon?!

Latimer: On Christmas Day, Spirited Away popped up on my television screen like the ghost of Christmas past. I paused in my chocolate-coma induced mindless channel hopping and smiled. It had been a long time since I saw Chihiro and Kohaku. Then I frowned remembering my fan-girl grudge against this movie.

It was the start of the movie and despite my grudge (which will become apparent), I decided this would be a nice movie to sit down and watch. On the first break, I went out to the kitchen to make some tea and about 30 minutes passed by – the Christmas Day time vortex appeared. It’s the weirdest day of the year where time speeds up; when even getting some tea manages to turn into twelve other things that zap all the time away.

I never got back to Spirited Away that day. But it popped up again recently, urging me to confront my grudge.

Jumping briefly into the ‘way-back machine’ of nostalgia, I remember when this movie came out (13 years ago this year). Spirited Away was the first anime I’d seen that had a proper Japanese feel to it; from the moment Chihiro and her family step into the spirit world town, you get immersed in the Japanese-ness of it all, the food, the mythology (radish spirit?! Really?! That’s cool…!)

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 Spirited Away was also the first anime I saw subbed (it was an extra on the DVD). I was a fool and turned up my nose and stuck with the English dubbed version at that point though (damn fool Latimer!).

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 I love the feel of Spirited Away, the view into Japanese culture and mythology.

Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?
Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?

The animation is wonderful too. There’s the wonderful, beauiful moment where Chihiro is crying, falling through the air with Kohaku, and her tears are breaking off the little mouse and bird.

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The story between Kohaku and Chihiro is so sweet and lovely… and well, that’s where my ‘grudge’ comes in….I always have this moment of sighing sadly at the end, when Chihiro leaves Kohaku…. I am a fan-girl, so of course I would be frowning at this!

The ending is a bit ambiguous; you can read what you like into it. Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of Spirited Away) said that Chihiro has lost her memories after leaving the spirit world.

This time, I watched it I came to my own conclusion (after, what 10 years or so? ha). When Chihiro leaves Kohaku, she asks, ‘will we meet again?’ and he promises that they will. And then she’s gone. I block out having read once that there’s one way of looking at this; Kohaku is a spirit and so, Chihiro will meet him again when she dies and becomes a spirit…

Okay, that’s too sad, so this is the way I choose to look at it! Kohaku also says in the subbed version that, ‘I’ll go back to my world’ – which means that the spirit world might not be his world after all. He saved Chihiro when she fell into the river when she was a child, so to me, it means he’s going back to being a river god – and where are the rivers – in Chihiro’s world (if he saved her before in her own world, then that’s the world he belongs in).

Got my fangirl mojo back!!
Got my fangirl mojo back!!

 As to memory loss… hmm, well she still has her magical hair tie in the end (which holds ‘everyone’s feelings’) – so I’m not worried about that 🙂 Thinking of this as the ending makes this ending nicer to me after all these years; I think I’m letting go of my grudge at last!

Ah, ambiguous endings – are they a pain or a pleasure?

Latimer watches… Death Comes to Pemberly

No, not Denny!! Please not Denny!!
No, not Denny!! Please not Denny!!

‘Death comes to Pemberly… This is the story of how I died… Who am I? I’m Denny… What do you mean ‘Denny who?’? You know… Lydia said my name once – no? Okay, so I told Elizabeth that Wickham wasn’t coming to the Netherfield ball because of a certain person…? Yeah, that Denny!’

Latimer: Okay admission time, I have a major addiction to Pride and Prejudice (P&P).

How can you not have a P&P addiction?
How can you not have a P&P addiction?

Yup…! I also have a minor addiction to Pride and Prejudice variations and sequels.. ahem, yes…

Basically these (variations really) are self-published stories where people use the P&P the storyline but tweek it; for example, say there’s a storm after Darcy proposes to Elizabeth for the first time and he gets stranded at the parsonage and the story just continues onward, with parts changing due to that incident… yup.

The reason I like them, is because I love Darcy and Elizabeth. As long as Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love, then it’s all good.

My love of all things P&P meant I was really happy to see a three-part drama, ‘Death comes to Pemberly’ advertised on BBC over Christmas. It’s a P&P sequel (not quite a variation, but someone’s take on ‘what happened next’). It’s a murder mystery story. We meet the characters six years after P&P. Darcy and Elizabeth are hosting the annual Pemberly ball and Wickham and Lydia (not actually invited) arrive in Pemberly causing all sorts of trouble.

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On the way to Pemberly, Wickham and Corporal Denny (Denny NOoo!) have a fight in the carriage as it clip-clops through Pemberly forest. Denny jumps out of the carriage and angrily storms into the forest, Wickham following after him. Denny is then found dead in the woods with Wickham as the prime suspect.

These were roughly my thoughts on watching the series…

  • Denny… Denny… who… oh yeah, Denny… *ahem, yes of course*
  • Wickham, you are a perpetual arsehole!
  • Lydia… the impossible girl, ha
The Impossible Lydia... see what I did there!
The Impossible Lydia… see what I did there!
  • Why does Elizabeth continue to call Mr Darcy… ‘Darcy’? Not even Mr Darcy, just Darcy… hmm.
  • Is their son, young Fitzwilliam (original) going to speak at all in this? (no not really)
  • Matthew Rhys is a fine Mr Darcy (and a fine Russian spy – when is The American’s starting back?!)
  • Death Comes to Pemberley4497DCEFE63EC75E2FD7BC1CFB56BEMiss Elizabeth doesn’t have very many gowns considering Darcy’s 10,000 a year, what’s going on?
  • Someone online said; “why is Elizabeth wearing a Georgian shoe buckle in her hair?”, now all I can see is a shoe buckle every time she turns around!
  • Out loud I’m saying; “Mr Darcy don’t go being an arsehole again and ruining your relationship with Elizabeth (again)!”; (in my head though: “Mwhaha, yesss, be an arsehole again, hehe… excellent…”)
  • There’s some fan-service, which would have made Austen blush *hehe*
  • Ah, it’s over, what can we watch now?

This was a fun period drama that fills the period drama void!

I love the BBC P&P with Colin Firth (its epic)… but you know *whispering for fear of being attacked by inner fan-girl*… it might now be time for the BBC to make another adaptation of P&P!

There is always room in the world for another …. always!

 

Giant Human-Gobbling Babies

biggerqRidley: I’ve been in the middle of an anime marathon, or maybe it’s an anime coma? I’m never certain which is more accurate to describe what I do. Basically when I find an anime series that is really good, I devour each episode over hours or days without pausing (it depends on how long I have free), watching until my eyes hate me and my body begs for sleep. This time the series was called Attack on Titan. It’s being hailed as the must see anime for 2013, obviously as it’s now January 2014, I didn’t get that early memo, but better late than never, eh?

Basically it’s about a world where humans have lived inside huge high walls, sealed off from the titans, which are giant creatures that devour humans, just for the fun of it.shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-10-pic6 (1)

It starts off with all the settlements within the walls having lived in relative safety and peace for 100 years, then a colossal titan smashes through the main gate of the outer most wall and all hell breaks loose.images

The outer settlement retreats behind an inner war, there’s turmoil, famine and now the threat of the titans is far more real than ever before. For us, the story centres around three friends, Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert.images (3)attack-on-titan-mikasa-punch shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-8-pic1

After they each endure horrific personal tragedy, they decide to train to become elite soldiers that will fight the Titans, using special Manoeuvre Equipment, which enables them to swing (though its more like they fly) through the air on metal harnesses that harpoon out and attach to builds. I think I’d love the ability to travel like that and to use the double swords like they do, but if given half a chance, I know I’d probably accidentally slice something off or smash into a wall at high speed within three minutes of putting the equipment on.attack-on-titan-video-game-featured

I must say the series is creepy, it’s weird, it’s quite gory, and it’s brilliant.  It doesn’t pull any punches, you really get a feeling no character, no matter how important, is safe. Titans can snatch up anyone and eat them, and you will see them being eaten.bigger

To me, the titans resembled large human-gobbling babies, and actually when they start running can be quite terrifying, (though this one running is kinda funny) but then you have to imagine this 15 meter giant barrelling down towards you is about to crush or eat you:

There’s so much in this series to keep you watching, with various ongoing mysteries, which keep you pressing play over and over, you are left questioning where the titans suddenly appeared from and why they eat humans when they don’t need food.vnIMuIA There’s also pure raw human emotions and individual reactions to the devastation wrought by the titans. The author has said that one of the main influences on the series was the inner feelings of people. This is a strong element throughout, we see characters dealing with their total terror and grief, of seeing things they never should have to witness. Some of the characters overcome their fear, and others don’t.  At one point, I did stop and think about what a world like that would really be like, how I would react, and I decided I can’t say I’d have ever had the courage to become a soldier and fight off the giants. I think I’d still like to have the uniform though…images (2)

The anime doesn’t finish as such, it’s left open ended, it’s like a long teaser to get you hooked on the world and the story, so that you’ll then start reading the manga, where hopefully all our burning questions will be answered. So…

To the manga!

So It Begins

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Latimer: And so it begins… Christmas shopping… the last ride of the Rohirrim… 

Okay, that might (might) be an exaggeration! But I saw this funny post on Tumblr and it sort of fit:

It’s Christmas, you have one of two feelings:

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Or

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I’m not totally one way or the other, but it feels like this year, Christmas sneaked up on me – then knocked me out with a sledgehammer.

As I stumbled around half-dead for three weeks, I now find myself madly shopping in a delirium of, sweat, confusion and panic, blind panic!

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Over the past few years I’ve found myself buying children’s Christmas presents for nieces and nephews. The last time I had been in a toy shop was to… well, be the one who people were buying presents for! I was the last child I knew!

Now, I have five nieces and two nephews to be buying presents for!

And I panicked. When I stepped into the big toy shop to do my ‘buy, buy, buy SOMETHING… ANYTHING’ Christmas shop last weekend, I faltered. I got confused; really confused.

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I reverted back in time. I stood staring at the Sylvanian Families, laughing; “Aww, still as expensive as ever… oh! The Badger Family, I remember you!” 

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I was a child again. I forgot why I’d come to the shop.

I started looking at all the new dolls, thinking they were cool. Asking myself if a three year old could handle the awesomeness of gothic dolls based on monsters (no, thankfully I came to my senses on that one).

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I bought myself some glitter glue; which I needed for making my Christmas present tags for the kids, but it was weird because, I’ve not had glitter glue since I was a kid!

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Thankfully I did manage to leave the toy shop without going too crazy.

Although my last giddy thought as I left was; “I have money now… I could buy things if I wanted…I could buy the Sylvanian Families cottage/barge/windmill! Oh the POWER!”

I pray the power of the toy shop will not have grown stronger by next Christmas!

Indie Adventures

Latimer's Web Adventures!
Latimer’s Web Adventures!

Latimer: Somehow I’ve found myself on an indie odyssey through the internet recently, stumbling over people making really amazing art, from conception to end-product. As Ridley and I are indie writers ourselves, it’s always great to see what other indie people are up to around the web!

There are some amazing artists out there, doing really cool innovative things. The invention of Kickstarter also means that more and more people are finding ways of getting their ideas out to bigger audiences. It’s really inspiring and I’ve stumbled across some great finds as I’ve wandered and bounced around the wide-open spaces of web-land!

Here are a few of my new, sparkly treasures!

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Podcast: Welcome To Night Vale (created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and voiced by Cecil Baldwin), this really cool podcast about a fictional town somewhere in America, where strange things are happening, almost always… they have hooded figures, mysterious dog parks, vanishing interns… it’s all very random, but brilliantly random!  

Webcomic: Ava’s Demon – oh wow, this webcomic by Michelle Czajkowski, is just fantastic! It is semi-mixed media, in that for each chapter, there are a number of beautiful single panels, and then the very last part of the chapter is a short animation. The story is set in outer-space and on different planets, but it also has this cool fantasy feel to it. It focus’ on a girl called Ava who is possessed by a demon with a mysterious/bloody past.

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The artwork is beautiful and after running this really successful Kickstarted campaign, the artist now has the money to update the comic twice weekly and add lots more fun stuff! (Currently the comic is updated every Thursday! Check it out! It’s great!)

Webcartoon: Bee and PuppyCat, a really cool webcartoon. Bee has been fired and as she walks home, a puppy-cat falls out of the sky. This is so brilliant, hilarious and just… it’s so strange that it draws you in and you are hooked wondering – what on earth is going on?

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The artist and creator of Bee and PuppyCat (Natasha Allegri) works on Adventure Time (she created the female/genderbender version of Finn and Jake – Fionna and Cake!). And Frederator Studios, the indie studio that makes Bee and PuppyCat (and the other shows on the channel), also made Adventure Time (so there are similarities). I’ve never watched Adventure Time, but I feel like I should now!

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Currently Bee and PuppyCat is only one episode, but after a Kickstarter campaign she got enough money to make a series! Not sure when it will be out, but I’ll be subscribing to keep track!

Webcartoon: Bravest Warriors (by Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time), this is also on the same channel (Cartoon Hangover) as Bee and PuppyCat and made by the same people. It’s actually really, really funny. I love the humour in these cartoons, it’s so unbelievably random and quirky!

I can’t wait for the next find! There are some amazing people, doing really cool things out there 🙂

Wondering Heights

There are more.... there's always more; like Highlander
There are more…. there’s always more; like Highlander

Latimer: Recently I did a post about my reading-list, and how it’s never-ending.

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The list keeps getting diverted, or side-tracked. During Halloween, I came across a free download of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on amazon. I had never read it, so I put Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Private Life aside (again) to read something else (I feel like I’ll never finish that book, even though it’s so good!).

I spent about a week reading Dracula. I was so taken with the story that for a while all I could see was Stoker and vampires. Every time I passed Kildare Street, on the way to work in Dublin, I would look up transfixed as the bus zipped past Stoker’s house. It looks odd – the door is very small, and painted a faint lilac colour; there doesn’t seem to be anything inside; the windows are small and dark, covered by white shutters… what goes on inside that strange little house?!

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Well, after reading Dracula, I was spun off into Wuthering Heights – a book I often return to from time-to-time, but have mixed feelings about. I’m a hopeless romantic, but I never could take to the Heathcliff and Cathy romance. They aren’t easy characters to like and because I can’t like them, I don’t care much about their feelings.  

But, if I don’t like them, why do I always sneak back to the moors?

Ah, well…! That would be for the half-story of Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw!

The growth of that sweet little relationship is so lovely. She’s a spoilt princess, but she has a heart. And Hareton – ! He is such a wonderful character, he makes my heart bled that boy. He was the ‘most wronged’ but the one with the greatest capacity for forgiveness and love (the hero of the story).

That part where Hareton is transfixed by Catherine and reaches out to touch her hair... *squee*
Fan-art of that part where Hareton is transfixed by Catherine’s hair and reaches out to touch it… *squee*

When I finish the book, I always put it aside wishing that there was more about Catherine and Hareton (always). I feel so bereft for being denied that story… I know the book isn’t supposed to be about them, and probably the only reason their story exists in the story at all is to contrast the destructive nature of Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship.

But, oh, I know Emily Brontë could have written that beautiful book. Even though Wuthering Heights has always been stuck in my head, I think the story of the spoilt princess and the gruff uneducated farm boy, wronged by his adopted father and scorned by everyone, would have been one of my favourite books!

Is it okay for me to mourn that non-existent story :(?

Does anyone else have a half-story that they wished was the main story?

Memories – made by Disney

Latimer's Disney selfies - can you guess what movies they're from?
Latimer’s Disney selfies – can you guess what movies they’re from?

Latimer: Ah Halloween, it came and went and I am about half a stone heavier as a result (damn Trick r’ Treat leftovers!).

As it was Halloween season I had to watch ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.

I love it, but it honestly scares me. Like, if I ended up in Halloween Town, with Dr Finkelstein, I’d start shrieking, smack him over the head with a gravestone and run, like my life depended on it (which it probably does at this point) to the forest and the Christmas Town door.

So scary!!!!
So scary!!!!

I like Jack and Sally, even the Mayor (just about), but not the Doctor… no…

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The thing of nightmares!!

The thing is, as I watched (mumbling to myself, ‘oh the horror!’), I started to think, as I always do, that the Doctor isn’t actually a bad person. He just looks creepy… So yeah, it’s a moral (don’t judge people) – ah the moral, it’s a Disney thing isn’t it?

I don’t think there are many people in the world who haven’t been shaped by Disney movies in some way. Every generation has their Disney’s.

I come from the Disney Renaissance, animation wise – to me, that’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (my fave), The Lion King (such a big deal at the time my God!) and Toy Story (the first full-length CGI movie!), Aladdin and Mulan (LOVE Mulan, I entered a competition for a giant Mushu teddy – I lost but I’ve always wondered about that lucky sod who won it).

Hehe.... Cos she does!!
Hehe…. ‘Course she does!!

Way back when, I used to get these magazines every week, called Disney and Me.

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Yup. And I never read them, nope, just looked at the cartoons and tried to draw them. Funny thing, I wasn’t a big reader in my childhood… The extent of my reading?

“I’m going on adventure today!” I’d say, packing up the essentials – bread for the eating, dock-leaves for potential nettle stings and an illustrated copy of Alice in Wonderland.

My copy did not look this cool... ah, I still wouldn't have read it though!
My copy did not look this cool… ah, I still wouldn’t have read it though!

I’d precede to the climb the trees around my estate and think to myself, “Today, I will read this book”.

It was a big book at the time. And… 5 minutes later, “Yup bored now.” How many pages did I read? None, ha.

Then I’d head to my friend’s house and watch, watch, and re-watch, her VHS copy of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. She hated me for that.

My mother’s friend had a copy of Beauty and the Beast that I used to borrow and watch… I spent a whole weekend watching it once and I cried when I had to give it back (seriously).

I can still hear Angela Landsbury singing in this scene... yup (aside: I also loved Murder She Wrote!)
I can still hear Angela Lansbury singing in this scene… yup (aside: I also loved Murder She Wrote!_

But, even when I was young, I felt there was one MAJOR flaw in this movie… The Prince… He just isn’t a good-looking man! My heart always dropped a little in disappointment! (It still does…!)

He's just... argh.... such a disappointment!
He’s just… argh…. such a disappointment!

This is a good looking ‘prince’…. 

Ah Flynn... Eugene... whatever, you're beautiful!
Ah Flynn… Eugene… whatever, you’re beautiful!

Anyways, when The Lion King came out, in 1994, I didn’t get to go to the cinema to see it. Back then no one was taking child-me to the cinema. I’d only been once in my life at that point – to see Jurassic Park.

Luckily, a girl in my class in school, her father worked overseas and he got a pirated copy of The Lion King (ohh… hehe). And the teacher said we could watch it! We were astounded (now that I think of it, the teacher probably just wanted to see it too – I know now that’s what I’d do!).

With the blinds pulled down in our classroom, we all got to watch the wonder of The Lion King. I was also madly in love with Jonathon-Taylor Thomas (voice of Simba) at this point, so it was the best movie I ever saw in my life at the time.

What ever happened to him? Hmm...
What ever happened to him? Hmm…

There was a girl in my class (we’ll call her Sara) – she was one of my art rivals (Everyone had one. But she never viewed me as her rival – ah ha, oh that’s cold!). Sara was the best at drawing Disney-style animals. And after The Lion King she was like a celebrity; “Draw a Simba on my desk!” everyone would squeal.

A years later, I did manage go to the cinema to see Toy Story. I have very vivid memories of standing in line, being so excited to see this movie. I think that’s why I cried so badly at the end of Toy Story 3 – I was finally saying goodbye to them after 18 years! It was pretty heart-breaking…. The scene where Andy plays with the toys for the last time! Argh, I… I just can’t….

How heart-breaking is this?!?!
How heart-breaking is this?!?!

Disney’s stamped all over my memories.

There came a point during growing up that I threw away the Disney cloak. That’s for kids, I thought, and I am a child no more! (ha, yup, that did NOT last)

The Disney Renaissance had ended anyways. But, then, it entered a revival era! The age of the CGI animated movies (Pixar) came into being and I was pulled back in!

By about Finding Nemo I was back on the Disney bandwagon. My counterparts on the wagon, who had stayed the course, eyed me with disdain; “We stayed true!”

I still do a bad impersonation of the surfer dude turtle!
I still do a bad impersonation of the surfer dude turtle!

The Incredibles is a brilliant movie.Tangled? Oh god, love it. WALL-E – how gorgeous is that movie?

I love this movie for her glorious hair alone!
I love this movie for her glorious hair alone!

Brave, Brave… yup… Disney’s back in my heart.

And now I’m waiting hopefully for Frozen.

Really looking forward to this! I’ve even starting doing some fan-art – take that Sara it only took… err a few (a lot) years! Ah, ha…

Kristoff and Anna... please let this movie be Tangled epic!!
Kristoff and Anna… please let this movie be Tangled epic!!

All those memories… Disney really is King of Childhood Dreams…

Everyone has a Disney favourite! Right :)?

 

(When we were in Tokyo a while back, we stumbled across the Disney store! It also brought back a lot of childhood memories!) 

Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

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Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

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Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

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Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

Komomo-Confiserie2

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Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

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If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

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Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂