[Update] Thoughts about the Recent String of Sexual Assaults at UBC

Original post here.

The Ubyssey has published their opinion on the Take Back the Night rally.

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Thoughts about the Recent String of Sexual Assaults at UBC

This post will most likely be updated with further developments.

A map of where reported sexual assaults on the UBC Vancouver campus in 2013 occurred. Source: RCMP (from Globe and Mail)

For almost every weekend since the end of September, a report of a sexual assault was filed ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5]). If the pattern holds (which hopefully it won’t) another attempt will be made sometime this weekend. While the presence of at least one sexual assailant on campus who appears to be becoming more comfortable as the semester goes on is scary enough, I am somewhat dismayed by the response by campus inhabitants. Due to the controversial topic being discussed, reader discretion is strongly and strictly advised. Continue reading

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Forget Me Not”)

Pun of the week: the Forget-Me-Knot

A key character from Alice’s adventures makes an appearance in this episode.

Who are you? Source: OUaT Wiki

Jafar and the Red Queen are trying to make Alice use up her wishes so that Cyrus won’t be bound to her anymore by creating situations where she has no choice but to use them. Using Cyrus’ reactions as a guide, the villains finally decide on releasing a Bandersnatch, which takes the form of a wild boar with an incredible sense of smell.

Following the discovery that the bottle has been stolen, the Knave suggests using the Forget-Me-Knot, a rope with a loop that acts as a magic lens with the power to see past events in any viewed area. The problem? It is in the possession of the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, who put out a bounty on his head for not honouring his debt, further illustrating the impact that the Knave has had on Wonderland that we haven’t seen yet. The caterpillar then confides in the two adventurers that the knot has been taken by the Grendel, a monster so terrible that adventurers never returned. The Knave then sees an opportunity to settle the debt: retrieve the knot from the Grendel and give it back to the Caterpillar, who agrees, seeing as whatever outcome occurs benefits him in some way: if the Knave fails to retrieve the knot, the Caterpillar is rid of him once and for all; if the Knave succeeds in bringing the knot back, the Caterpillar can use it for his own gain; if the Knave gets the rope and runs off with it, the Caterpillar will take glee in having his head (still conscious, and a callback to Jefferson’s decapitation in Once Upon a Time) as an ornament.

At this point of seeing the portrayal of a pivotal character I realised that there was a compromise during the show: the mystique, logical arguments and philosophy of Lewis Carrol has been replaced by backstory and action. I don’t really mind the reimagining of the characters, but it is something that made Alice and her adventures what they were.

When Alice and the Knave reach the Grendel’s house (and subsequently captured and tied to be the beast’s next meal), it is revealed that the monster is really just a deformed man who is using the knot to hang onto the past and his deceased lover. The Knave tries to empathise with the Grendel by mentioning his ex-lover Anastasia to no avail. It’s at this point Alice seemingly accomplishes the villains’ plans in getting her to use her wishes; just not in the way they had intended. Alice uses them to cut through the ropes, just in time as the Bandersnatch arrives. After dispatching of the pig the Grendel decides to let go of the past and relinquishes the rope. A while later, Jafar and the Queen stop by for a visit, and after promising to “reunite [the Grendel] with his wife,” the sorcerer kills him, but not before alerting them to the fact that the Knave is accompanying her, causing the Queen to have a small reaction shot, reasons which become apparent with the Knave’s origins.

Alice and her companion return to the site of the stolen bottle and discover the White Rabbit unearthing the vessel, something that we the audience learned in the previous episode. Learning about it beforehand lessened the impact, something that would have better kept concealed until now. I’m guessing the writers were trying to establish the Queen’s power play against Jafar, but that could have been easily done by her presenting it without the Rabbit being included in the scene.

The most interesting part of the episode by far was the flashback. Sean Maguire makes an crossover appearance from Once Upon a Time as Robin Hood accompanied with his Merry Men, stealing from the rich to give to the poor in the Enchanted Forest. Here we discover the petty thief Will Scarlet, the Knave of Hearts’ true identity. After convincing the band of thieves to pillage Maleficent’s castle for gold, he steals a magical artifact with a warning that keeping the artifact will only bring misery. When Robin finds of Will’s treachery, he simply lets him go, as it is “the cruelest thing [he] can do.” He brings the item–a looking glass–back to Anastasia, who is revealed to be the Red Queen. Using the glass, they jump into the magical world of Wonderland. The whole using the looking glass thing makes Anastasia seem like Alice herself,

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Trust Me”)

Pun of the week: Dandelion

After the pilot episode, this one tells of how Cyrus came to Wonderland and some of his adventures that Alice tagged along on.

Getting letters from her supposedly-dead boyfriend, eh? Source: Hypable

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[Review] Who’s My Neighbour?

On the 19th of October, I went to the Norman Rothstein community centre to watch a play titled Who’s My Neighbour about Chinese immigrants coming to Vancouver in the 21st century. The production had 2 runs (a 4:30 and 7:30 viewings with characters being doublecast) and was conceived by the Sacrificium Society of Production.

Most (if not all, to the best of my knowledge) of the cast did not actively pursue acting; I know one of the actors and he operates as a tour guide as his day job. There was no room in the program for bios, so any further information I could have tried to glean from the people working on this show was lost.

There is not much of a central plot to this show, as it chronicles the stories of a few characters, some of them not necessarily having to do with one another, which makes it harder to follow without a central conflict or something that brings all the characters together besides just living by one another.

While I did not have a big problem with understanding what the characters (as there was dialogue being brought up in the back in both Chinese and English that synced up (for the most part) with the actors), it was hard to connect with the characters; their names were barely mentioned over the course of the play and that made the characters less memorable than they could have been. The ones I do remember vividly are Wai Wai, a girl who lives with an overbearing mother; Yan Yan, Wai Wai’s teenage cousin who is almost to term; and Wayne, Wai Wai’s boyfriend who appears to have the best parents giving him stuff. One suggestion that I have for this production is to use the characters’ names more so that they stick in the audience’s memory and don’t conglomerate into eerily similar clones.

There were two points in the play that were vivid: Wai Wai talking to her mother who won’t go out with friends and near the end of the scene exploding and telling her mother that she just wants a little time for herself, followed by a hug to comfort the latter. The other was when a young woman is being seen off by her grandmother (???) Irene at the airport for a job offer in Shanghai. The two bicker and try to outwait the other before the girl leaves, but not before coming back and giving her grandmother a final goodbye.

All in all, it was an adequate play. The preachiness of Jesus was a little overbearing at some parts, but for an amateur company, it was done pretty well.

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[Review] Sleepy Hollow (“John Doe”)

Ichabod/Modern Technology interaction of the week: Plastic

Running away from the scary pony man. Source: TarsTarkas.net

The episode begins with a young boy (who goes by the name of Thomas Grey) in medieval garb who is playing by himself when a little girl dressed in all white shows herself to him and lures him away from the safe confines of his home. She promptly disappears and all of a sudden a horseman begins chasing the boy into the outskirts of Sleepy Hollow.

When Ichabod and Abbie come across this boy (who has already been picked up by paramedics), he mutters something that the former realises is Old English, which later on sounds suspiciously similar to German. As he is being sent off to the hospital, black veins travel up and around his body, which later passes on to nearby victims who see the Horseman coming for them before dying. The two do more research on the horseman that the boy tells them about and learn that it is the Horseman of Pestilence Conquest that is trying to join the Horseman of Death.

As more people gradually become sick, Ichabod and Abbie retrace Thomas’ steps, they discover the Lost Colony of Roanoke, where all the inhabitants have the same black veins as Thomas, though none of them display any signs of sickness. When questioned about this, the chieftain declares that it is the spirit of Virginia Dare protecting them from the horseman that plagues them. As Ichabod returns to the hospital with Abbie, he discovers that he has contracted the illness and is sedated to keep from freaking out.

During his stupor, he temporarily reunites with his wife Katrina. She laments that she did not call out to him, and for him to be here otherwise would mean that he was dead, “or close to it.” She explains to him that they are both in Purgatory, where Moloch oversees all and decides whether the souls in this realm deserve absolution or damnation. If my theology is correct, that’s not what happens in Purgatory. Purgatory, as the name implies, is a place where a soul can find redemption and move into heaven, Before it can do so, it must purge itself of all the sins it has accumulated.

Anyway, he wakes up and Abbie manages to convince Captain Irving to sneak Ichabod and the boy back to the lost colony, being chased by Conquest. They make it to the town’s small reservoir and Ichabod jumps into it with Thomas. Just as Conquest catches up with them, it dematerialises and it’s revealed that Thomas and the rest of the clan are dead all along, explaining the antiquated clothing and language. Of course, that raises questions about how other people can see and contract Thomas’ illness; I guess we can say that magic did it.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a subplot building around Abbie’s ex-boyfriend, Luke Morales, who’s trying to dig into Ichabod’s background, even though it’s apparent to us viewers. An interesting thing to note is that Ichabod’s cover is well maintained, as evidenced when Luke calls Oxford University and is told that an Ichabod Crane does exist and “is currently on loan to the Sleepy Hollow police department.”

In my post reviewing this series’ pilot episode, I mentioned how the order of the Horsemen appearing have been thrown around. A thing that irked me in this episode was the colour pairing of the horsemen. If you’re familiar with the mythos, it should be like this, in the order which they are supposed to appear in the Book of Revelations:

Horseman Colour
Conquest/Pestilence White
War Red
Famine Black
Death Pale

I’ll be sure to watch the following episode soon enough.

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Down the Rabbit Hole”)

With the success that is the hit ABC series Once Upon a Time, the creators had decided to do a spinoff series that tells the tale of a well-known girl who followed a rabbit down a hole into a mysterious land. Alice is portrayed by Sophie Lowe and her companion the Knave of Hearts is played by Michael Socha. I’ll try and get a review for the second episode up soon.

Mushrooms that make you get big? They’re back. Source: Wikipedia

This incarnation of Alice is an adolescent (young adult) who has been to Wonderland multiple times to bring back proof to her father that it is real. Along the way she discovers an old bottle that contains a genie by the name of Cyrus hailing from the land of Agrabah. With him, they go on many adventures, culminating in a confrontation with the Red Queen (played by Emma Rigby) at the Boiling Sea where she tosses Cyrus off the cliff.

Dismayed, Alice returns to “our” world and is institutionalised and is set to be undergoing an operation that looks suspiciously like a frontal lobotomy. Just as she resigns herself to the surgery, the Knave bursts in and proclaims that Cyrus is still alive, whereupon she opens a can of whoop-ass on the orderlies, further distancing the idea that heroines are not action-oriented.

After she and the Knave jump back into Wonderland, we can see how creative and punny the world is; the Mallow Marsh and the dragon flies (that spew fire!). Granted, it does seem a bit too technicolour, but then again, it is Wonderland, where anything is possible.

As the Knave and Alice leave the marsh, the Knave refuses to travel with her any further as he’s become a very unpopular character that warranted a bounty on his head. Alice decides to bribe him with 1 of 3 red stones that she’s hidden in her shoe that turn out to be the physical manifestation of her wishes, to which the Knave wonders out loud why she can’t just use one of them to bring Cyrus back immediately. She replies and states that the bigger the wish, the likelier it is something will go terribly wrong, thereby prolonging the series and rightfully so. The White Rabbit then declares that Cyrus was last seen at the Mad Hatter’s place. Alice then decides to climb up a tall tree, leaving her wishes down with the Knave. Up there, she meets the Cheshire Cat, who has grown to large proportions and wants to eat Alice. She jumps down and discovers the Knave missing with her wishes. After a bit of adequate combat, she is pinned down and about to be snacked on when the Knave returns, throwing one side of a mushroom into the Cat’s mouth, shrinking it back to normal size and fulfilling the “I saved you just in time!” trope. It turns out that he can’t use the wishes, as they’re not his, and so he is stuck with Alice on her quest to find Cyrus.

Meanwhile, we learn that the White Rabbit is actually in cahoots with the Red Queen, and that she is in an unholy alliance with Jafar (played by Naveen Andrews, who you may remember from Lost), who is the one that holds Cyrus captive and brought Alice back so that she would use all of her 3 wishes so that the genie would be unbound from her.

This new series so far is promising, though Sophie Lowe seems a little wooden. Michael Socha as the sardonic tag-along brings reluctance contrary to Alice’s determination, becoming a nice foil around her. I haven’t made my mind about this show yet, but I hope it get renewed for a second season.

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[Review] Finn’s Send-Off

Well, I finally watched it; Finn’s farewell episode in response to Cory Monteith’s passing. So many feels.

Source: MJ’s Big Blog

Where to begin…?

I was very impressed with this episode and it handled the subject matter much better than the one about the school shooting. For one, the episode begins with Kurt’s voiceover about how they’ve had held Finn’s funeral and that he’s gone. No mention of how he died, just that he did. Granted, even I too am curious to the manner of how it happened, but as Kurt says, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances; we should be celebrating the life he had and how he changed everyone else’s. Despite this frankness, I think it takes away from the closure that a lot of fans wanted. They’ve had to do very few takes, as both cast and crew were incredibly emotional while filming during production.

The episode was broken down into several sections to give certain characters enough screentime to display their feeling.

Boxing Finn’s possessions. Kurt, Burt, and Carole are slowly sorting away Finn’s belongings for charity or for keeping. There are a few call-backs to some earlier episodes in the series, such as the football from the first football game they won and the lamp that Finn and Burt had an angry outburst over. Kurt picks up Finn’s letterman jacket and decides to keep it as Burt talks about how he regrets not being as close as he could have been.

I should’ve given him more hugs. We’d fist-bump or we’d high-five. But I should’ve given him more hugs.

-Burt Hummel

The memorial tree. At the beginning of the hour, Kurt buys a tree at a cheap price and Sue plants it in the spot where Quinn and Finn made out for the first time, only to learn that someone had dug it up and stolen it. At first it just seems rather selfish of Puck to desecrate a tribute to Finn, but then after the brief spat with Kurt in front of the Dumpster that he was thrown into during the pilot the act becomes rationalised when Puck argues that while Kurt has an entire room to remember Finn by, he has nothing and even demands the letterman jacket under the belief that Kurt will ruin it. Kurt refuses.
He later has a sit-down with Coach Beiste and he confesses that Finn was the guy who would always steer him in the right direction. After some more consoling, he agrees to put the tree back and decides to go off into the Army. In terms of looks and roughness, I can see this as a path for Puck.

If I start crying, I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

-Noah Puckerman

Santana’s persistent breakdown. Over the course of the episode Santana interrupts a few of the songs with her leaving or breaking down halfway through her song. When Kurt finally confronts her, she breaks down and admits that she wanted to surprise everyone by saying nice things about Finn (which she rarely, if ever, did) but just couldn’t go through with it in the end. Kurt consoles her and asks her to say it to him right there and she eventually gives in. He leaves afterwards, but not before giving her the letterman jacket.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Finn dying, it’s that shame is a wasted emotion.

-Kurt Hummel

Sue dealing with Finn while holding the school together. Sue is as crass as ever in this episode, Even so, she tells Will and Emma to get it together and help the students out in any way, not to mention planting the aforementioned memorial tree. Also, when Santana rushes out the first time and discovers new Cheerios! putting out the candles, she storms into the new principal’s office and demands to know why she told them to do so, Sue calmly responds that they posed a fire hazard and barely reacted when Santana shoved her. When Santana comes back to apologise, Sue reveals that she feels devastated that Finn died thinking that she was a cruel person and that he would have made a good teacher.

He was such a good guy. I’ll never get to tell him. There’s no lesson here. There’s no happy ending. There’s just nothing. He’s just gone.

-Sue Sylvester

Will holding it in together until the very end. Halfway through the episode Will walks in on Emma just as she finishes “consoling” Tina, and she remarks that after almost a month, he hasn’t mourned at all. He brushes it off and continues about teaching the glee club. He also discovers Santana putting up wanted posters for Finn’s letterman jacket and implies Puck had stolen it–a rather low move for any teacher to make. At the very end, Emma walks back into her and Will’s apartment and finds him sobbing into the garment.

The next episode, “A Katy or a Gaga,” will be aired on November 7th, 2013.

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Thoughts about Commedia dell’arte at UBC

Hours of fun for everyone! Source: UBC Theatre

On October 11th I went to go see the intermediate BFA Acting class perform 2 plays written by Carlo Gozzi: The Three Oranges and The King Stag. The art form of commedia dell’arte is an old one, but quite new to me. The use of masks is similar to that of Noh theatre, where each mask portrays a certain type of character. The masks vary in shape, but the one thing I noticed the most was the width of the eye holes. Minor characters tended to have masks that obscure the actor’s eyes, making it harder to connect with them (which I believe is the point). The only characters that were not masked were female, and two served as love interests to the protagonists whereas two more who were playing the role of Smeraldina.

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Singing in a Choir or Two

Sorry for the sparse updates these past few days; I’d been practicing for a concert that happened yesterday. If you’re interested, you can watch the archived Livestream footage here. I’ll get some more posts up on here soon. Props to everyone who sang last night! All of you were amazing!

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