Dissatisfaction with Urban Fantasy Genre

Urban fantasy describes a work that is set primarily in the real world and contains aspects of fantasy. These matters may involve the arrivals of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence between humans and paranormal beings, conflicts between humans and malicious paranormals, and subsequent changes to city management.

Although stories may be set in contemporary times, this characteristic is not necessary for the fiction to be considered urban fantasy, as works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined. (source)

This post sprung up as I’ve just recently reread the first five Mercy Thompson books, written by Patricia Briggs. It’s not a bad read, in fact, I admit that it did keep me pretty entertained. But after a while, you start to get really tired of their generic formula and its predictable plots. And of course, the usual problems – overpowered main characters, lack of actual character development, cliched cookie-cut characters.

When I was in secondary school, my main drug of choice was urban fantasy series, and I think I’ve tried almost all the series available in the libraries back then.

It always begins with one of those strong independent female main characters, who normally have some special abilities, in some sort of career that would allow them to investigate the paranormal ongoings in the community. They could be a paranormal investigator type, invested with actual authority or just poking their noses in dangerous business like a hardboiled detective, or they could be someone with a flexible type of job, with connections to all the major paranormal factions in the city. Yeah, you don’t see urban fantasy characters as high-flying CEOs or lawyers, because they won’t be able to just drop all their work and go sleuthing and getting beaten up by villains and shit.

And of course, they will be accompanied by a slew of interesting characters, both powered and non-powered, but more importantly, there will always be a love interest, who will not have much of a personality, or at least not very distinctive beyond the ‘he’s good-looking, rich, has power and status, overall, a very good catch, somehow still attracted to our main character…?’

Glossing over why the love interest is interested in the first place, once the two characters fall madly in love with each other, the main character seems to start losing her spine, and becomes less independent and more annoying. And eventually, the love interest will cross a line somewhere and turn out to be kind of an jerk, but somehow our main character won’t see that the love interest isn’t really all that great and continues to support his undeserving arse.

If the writer drags out the series, we are bound to meet vampires, werewolves, the fae/fair folk, witches/wizards, other exotic paranormal creatures from other cultures, and the once straight-forward plotlines start becoming more and more convoluted, with more political on-goings and scheming, while our main character slowly advances in her machinations and gains power (literately sometimes).

Idk, it’s not that I hate the genre now, but it just gets so tiresome and recycled, I need writers to start parodying this shit and making things bizarre, perhaps.

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Lush; Big Shampoo

Description: Give limp hair more volume than you thought possible with seaweed infusion to soften hair, and fresh citrus juices for incredible shine. Made with over 50% sea salt, BIG is our most effective shampoo for hair in need of a boost to turn it into sexy, bouncing hair. Full of minerals, sea salt de-greases hair, removing dead skin cells and dirt, without stripping natural oils. The lift comes from debris being lifted from the roots of the hair for major oomph. Plus, we’ve mixed in extra virgin coconut oil, and avocado butter for added softness. Your hair will be bouncing back to life.

Ingredients: Coarse Sea Salt (Coarse Sea Salt), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), Fresh Organic Lemon Infusion (Citrus limonum), Fresh Sea Water (Fresh Sea Water), Toothed Wrack Seaweed Infusion (Fucus serratus), Cocamide DEA (Cocamide DEA), Lauryl Betaine (Lauryl Betaine), Fresh Organic Lime Juice (Citrus aurantifolia), Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Neroli Oil (Citrus aurantium amara), Mandarin Oil (Citrus reticulata), Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia), Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus aurantium amara), *Limonene (*Limonene), Perfume (Perfume)

PROS
– Smells fantastic, citrus-y and almost beachy, like a mermaid would? Except idk, I don’t get to beaches. But that’s how I’d imagine beach girls ought to smell like, minus all the sand.
– It did make my hair super soft and lightweight. I’m not sure about the volume though, the hair is still limp and lifeless, but I think it’s mostly just because I have thin, fine hair.
– Would work as a clarifying shampoo because it dries my hair out (see con for more info)
– Sea salt gimmick was an interesting new thing for me; felt like exfoliation for the scalp?

CONS
– It is really drying, especially if you use it continuously, so nope, don’t do that, unless you’re trying to test it out, like me. Cos that’s what I did basically, use Big for 1 week daily. As soon as I got it in my scalp, I was like, ah shit, this is going to dry out my hair. (because even though I have an issue with oily scalp, the ends of my hair are dry) The good thing about this? My hair oil got used more frequently! Lol.
– It’s kind of pricey at 45 bucks for 330g. Yeeeeah, this is most likely not something I’m going to re-purchase. I mean, I got this on a whim, and I kind of just wanted to try it out for fun and stuff.
– Can be pretty troublesome to use, since it’s in a tub-like container, and to prevent contamination, I have to use a spatula to get the shampoo out. I’m not sure if people ought to leave it in the bathroom either, personally I don’t, because I think it’s kind of gross when the labels get wet and start peeling off etc.

Things I Love Thursday

(shhh, just post dumping, nothing to see. drafts, them are some handy things, eh.)

Material Things:
Got my Sixteen92 Winter Collection samples~ Aaaand, if I have my shit together, the reviews for these scents will be up in December, since you know, ‘winter’ month. Like that really matters here, amirite?

My Indie Memory Box arrived as well, one day later than the Sixteen92 samples. It’s stuffed with a whole bunch of goodies, and let’s see if I’ll get the chance to do a post about it, but man, there will most likely be useful stuff, and also things that I probably won’t end up using.

Went on a little shopping spree on my own during lunch and ended up with a pair of new boots – I’m not a big fan of heels or flats in general, but sneakers and boots? I have a weakness for them, though I don’t really have the opportunity to wear them out a lot. Especially boots, because the weather here is always wrong and I’m not very good at walking in anything higher than an inch. I just look like a drunken child, instead of some suave twenty-something adult. Ah well.

– Made a huge Book Depository order. It’s like Christmas, except too early, but hey, I had a 10% coupon, so it’s all good, yeah? Finally bought the second Dragon Age book, the new Sandman comic, and the new Night Vale novel. Also, considering that I read Fangirl recently, I also had to buy the next book, featuring Simon and Baz, Carry On. Oh, and of course, a moleskine notebook for 2016. Yeah, it’s still expensive, but at least more justifiable?

Real Life:
– My usual lunch buddy went off to Taiwan for two weeks and I had to either go on my own or join another crowd. I thought I did pretty well in balancing out having solo lunches and eating with other coworkers. In fact, one coworker has gotten me mildly addicted, mildly and sort of, to Boost. I bet it’s loaded with sugar and unhealthy shit, disguising as being good for you and all. But yeah, otherwise, I got caught up with office gossip, which there is quite a lot of, and pretty interesting.

– Eating lunch on my own is also great, because that’s the only time I can have salad during lunch these days, haha. I miss the days when I still worked at Raffles City, where we would split up and get whatever food we like and then meet up again at the office pantry and then had lunch for like 3 hours.

– Met up with a bunch of friends: tea with a friend who still dreams of my ‘dream biker boyfriend’, in which I need to elaborate that she was the one who dreamt that I had a biker boyfriend, who was apparently cool and shit, and hey, I’m not complaining if a cool biker dude suddenly became real and decided that I was a good catch, you know? But there was a lot of talking and a lot of eating and a lot of time flying by without us noticing.

– The other meet up was with the clique: planning for our Thailand trip, fingers crossed if all the issues are resolved by then, and no one is unhappy with whatever we decided. And also, I still owe someone money for the air tickets.

– I don’t know why I woke up one day deciding that I had to re-listen to all The Rasmus songs, but why not? And I found that I still love their music even now :D Good old early 00s music~ it’s like re-living my teenage years again.

blow this blinding darkness away

I believe that the first step to eliminate hatred is to take a step back from your own personal beliefs and really listen to what the other party is trying to say. Which is not an easy thing to do when you have been brainwashed into believing terrible things ever since you were a child, and leaving this pit of misery will mean losing too many things. And it takes courage to cut these ties and follow your own path because you want to be a better person:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, [Megan] Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments. To protest the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in America, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members held signs with slogans like “GOD HATES FAGS” and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS,” and the outrage that their efforts attracted had turned the small church, which had fewer than a hundred members, into a global symbol of hatred.

Phelps-Roper first considered leaving the church on July 4, 2012. She and Grace were in the basement of another Westboro family’s house, painting the walls. The song “Just One,” by the indie folk group Blind Pilot—a band that C.G. had recommended—played on the stereo. The lyrics seemed to reflect her dilemma perfectly: “And will I break and will I bow / if I cannot let it go?” Then came the chorus: “I can’t believe we get just one.” She suddenly thought, What if Westboro had been wrong about everything? What if she was spending her one life hurting people, picking fights with the entire world, for nothing? “It was, like, just the fact that I thought about it, I had to leave right then,” she said. “I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin.”

The next day, she mentioned the possibility of leaving to Grace. Grace was horrified. “It just sounded ridiculous to even suggest it,” Grace told me. “These were the points I brought up: we’re never going to see our families again, we’re going to go to Hell for eternity, and our life will be meaningless.” Megan, still uncertain, agreed. But she plunged into a profound crisis of faith. “It was like flipping a switch,” she said. “So many other thoughts came in that I’d never pursued, and that’s every doubt that I’d ever had, everything that had ever seemed illogical or off.”

When they were together, Megan engaged Grace in interminable theological conversations. When they were apart, Megan detailed her doubts in text messages. One day, she texted Grace, “What if the God of the Bible isn’t the God of creation? We don’t believe that the Koran has the truth about God. Is it just because we were told forever that this is How Things Are?” She added, “Does it really make you happy when you hear about people dying or starving or being maimed? Do you really want to ask God to hurt people? I ask myself these questions. I think the answer is no. When I’m not scared of the answer, I know the answer is no.” Two days later, she texted Grace about Hell: “Why do we think it’s real? It’s starting to seem made up to scare people into doing what they say.” Grace replied, “But what if?”

That day, Grace wrote to Megan, “Our belief in God has always curbed everything. Like, pain & sorrow, I mean. Without that we’d only have our belief in each other. But we are human & humans die. What would we have if we didn’t have each other?” For Megan, the answer could be found in other people. “We know what it is to be kind & good to people,” she wrote. “We would just have to find somewhere else, other people to love and care about and help, too.” Grace wrote back, “I don’t want other people.” In truth, Megan didn’t want other people, either; she desperately wanted things in Westboro to go back to the way they had been. But the idea of living among outsiders was no longer unimaginable.

(source)

Who says technology isn’t good for anything, right?

a fidelius charm

Have you ever woken up and realised that you said a bit too much last night and now you wish you could cast a memory charm to make the other person forget whatever you told them?

Or just wish that you could turn back time and made yourself shut up?

The allure of having someone so easy to talk to – it’s a blessing and a curse; bottling things up and keeping the cards too close to you is a painful choking thing, but even as you spill the metaphorical beans, you start questioning yourself again, why, why did I tell you the things that I can’t/shouldn’t say to anyone? Isn’t it bad enough that people know more than just your name already?

I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m a secretive person, but it makes me uncomfortable to know that there are people who know what gets under my skin or what makes me tick. I don’t know what exactly I’m afraid of, it’s not like they will use the knowledge against me (I like to think that my friends are trustworthy and awesome), but blabbing to someone who makes you feel easy to talk to? That’s a dangerous habit to form, who knows what else you’ll spill, or who else you’d talk to?

only the dead tell no tales.

Things I Love Thursday

Winter is coming – or rather the season of consumerism has descended upon us and I can only prostrate myself before the altar of materialism like a brainwashed apprentice in the cycle of spending unnecessary money.

Hauls from Sephora + Lush + shu uemura:


Got this Butter London Invite Only nail polish set, which contains 6 limited edition minis. Minis are great since I can never finish a bottle of nail polish, when I have too many of them, and only 10 fingers.

And this Beauty Elixir from Caudalie, because you never know if there are better stuff out there if you don’t venture out from your usual brands, right? Rather than getting the 100ml and then regretting my choice, I got the smaller 30ml version, and it feels pretty good, especially when you use it right from the fridge, so the water is cool and tingling on your skin.


Lush’s Christmas line up is back, and Snow Fairy is one of the more popular items. It’s super sweet and looks like bright cotton candy, and despite feeling that it smells like cough syrup, I actually quite like the scent, so yeah, I’m going to invest in a larger bottle the next time I drop into the area.

American Dream conditioner – it’s supposed to smell like strawberries and cream, but nope, I don’t really get that. It’s just thick and goeey, but while it doesn’t make my hair tangle-free, it does make it softer. I actually got a sample of it quite a while back, used it up and then forgot about it. So now I got a small bottle of this just to test it out for a longer period of time. Besides, my hair’s not exactly too picky about the products I use, so far.

I got this Big shampoo because my mother has stole my Kiehl’s Tea Tree Oil shampoo. Haven’t tested it out yet because I still have some other random shampoo to use up.


And because shu uemura x maison kitsune is too adorable, I couldn’t resist, and got the brush set:

I wasn’t particularly interested in the palettes because the colours weren’t too inspiring, plus indie eyeshadows have ruin me completely for any other mainstream brands. And lip lacquers colours were too normal and dude, glossy lips isn’t my thing anymore, I’m all for the matte wine dark lips.

And because I foresee more hauling ahead, let’s just be glad I have money in the bank.

Plus, I have a ton of books just waiting to be checked out in my Book Depository cart – let’s just say that I will finally be getting around to reading more about Thedas and DRRR!! the english translated novel, because the chinese version of the novels are unreadable to me ;___; why is my mother tongue so baaaaaad.

This week is better than last week because it’s a short one! And there’s no tuition to go to on Sunday! Because the tuition kids are away on a staycation with their parents! :DDD Yay to sleeping in and lazing around!

Meeting up with a friend for dinner tomorrow! :D

Fangirling since 2004

I’d be lying if I said I could review this book subjectively. To be honest, I’ve wanted to pick this up for quite a while, but I couldn’t find it in the library, though I just realised I could borrow the ebook version through Overdrive, and I finished the entire book in an entire day.

The story is basically one of those ‘growing up and learning how to accept yourself etc’ type of stories:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath it’s something more. Fandom is life. It’s what got her and her sister, Wren, through losing their mom. It’s what kept them close.

And now that she’s starting college, introverted Cath isn’t sure what’s supposed to get her through. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I can’t be subjective about Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl because, just like her main character, Cath, who is hugely involved in fandom as a highly popular fanfiction writer, I’m an avid devourer of fanfiction, though I don’t write much myself.

I remember staying up till 3 or 4 am just reading Harry Potter fanfiction, and then lying in bed for a couple of hours before dragging my sorry carcass to school, or mooning over Inception ships instead of focusing on what relationship I was involved in, and just reading a ton of Sterek when I could be catching up with friends instead.

I suppose I could easily just read other books rather than fanfiction, but sometimes you just need something different – you want to see how other writers reinvent the familiar characters and universes and marvel over how they made the original work better or at least something of their own, with their own twists and revelations.

While Cath had her annoying moments, I did find myself sympathizing with her. She felt like one of those realistic fictional characters, the kind you can imagine seeing on a college campus somewhere. Or maybe that’s because I’ve had insight into some of fic writers’ lives and minds.

I did enjoy the parts about her family, it was pretty drama, but I do like the close knit relationships she has with her dad, and I felt vindicated that she doesn’t reunite with her mother who had left her and her sister when they were 8. I’m sorry, I’m spiteful like that, if you walk out on me, that’s it to everything.

I’m not too invested in her relationship with Levi though it was cutesy and all, but it didn’t feel especially special or anything.

To be honest, the main reason I read Fangirl is because I wanted to read Carry On:

Because this is the fanfiction that Cath has been working on in Fangirl, and now it’s an actual book, which is so meta, in a sense? Like a fictional book series in a book has created a real work in our world? I’m probably not explaining it clearly, but duuuuude, it’s just way cool, and I want to see Simon Snow and Baz snogging for real. Because that’s basically Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, and we all know where I stand with that ship. Standing at the deck, proudly waving my shipper flag before going down and dying on this vessel.

And this is what I want from my fanfiction, because even though the actual source material might be angsty and painful and tragic, I know somewhere someone is making things better.

Imaginary Perfumes for (Un)Real People: GACKT

I know that I gush a lot over X Japan, especially recently, since they re-formed and started becoming way more active, plus they just dropped a new single a week or so ago. But while X Japan was my first taste of the jrock drug, I didn’t really become hooked until Gackt stepped into the scene.

Gackt Camui (神威 楽斗 born July 4, 1973), better known by his stage name Gackt, is a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter and actor. He has been active since 1994, first as the frontman of the short-lived independent band Cains:Feel, then for the now defunct visual kei rock band Malice Mizer, before starting his solo career in 1999. He has released nine studio albums and, with forty-three singles released, holds the male soloist record for most top ten consecutive singles in Japan music history. (source)

I remembered being a total cray-cray fangirl, dragging a good friend into the hot mess of Gackt-ness, back in secondary school, where we would totally giggle over the fanservice in his live performances. And dude, did you know how bad the quality of Youtube videos were back in the 2000s?!

I loved his blonde fluffy hairstyle back then, and even his straight-ish black normal hair was pretty good too. I’m less enamoured with his choice of hairstyles as the years go by, but hey, his head, his right to do whatever shit he likes. That’s why we got this:

I’m like, dear boy, why?!

But the thing is he’s frigging 42 years old, and he still looks so… young-ish… whereas I’m here feeling like I’m 80 years old inside.

Anyway, onto the imaginary perfume that I’ve cooked up.

Top notes: cold metallic iris (if you’ve ever smelled Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist, that’s the iris I’m going for) and pale fleeting white lilies.

The reason behind using a metallic iris note is because that was how Gackt used to portray himself, and I’m basing this perfume on the old Gackt that I grew up with (kind of, it’s not like I knew him, other than through videos and interviews and such). Gackt always looked untouchable and distant, like he was above interacting with people in general, though you could catch a glimpse of his less serious side. But it felt like he wanted really badly to portray himself as too cool to be interested in mundane human stuff. He used to joke that he was 400+ years old, while hiding his real age, and well, he does look good for his age, whether it’s his good genes, self-care routine or just makeup/photoshop.

White lilies because of his close brush with death as a kid, which he talked about in his autobiography, Jihaku (Confession):

The first time this revolving lantern happened was when I was seven years old.

Drowning in the Okinawa sea, being swallowed by the waves, painfully, struggling and struggling, my feet unable to touch the bottom, seeing things above my head being pulled along forcefully by the waves. Pulled along by the water. Though I tried to breathe, all that entered my mouth was saltwater.

As I could do nothing but drink the saltwater, all sound suddenly disappeared. A gentle sensation, a warm sensation, and there was a feeling as if I was being completely embraced by something. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I was enveloped in a relief that I had not felt until that moment.

It was just after that moment. The revolving lantern began to move. All the memories I had since my birth till then began to one by one flash through my mind.

It was the first time this happened. I felt no fear. I thought that surely I was going to die.

But I didn’t die.

Thereafter, whenever I come close to death, the revolving lantern spins. In situations where I may die, such as traffic accident, a fight, it appears suddenly.

It has happened 15 times. That’s a little much, perhaps.

I was a mischievous child. I had a tendency to face death.

These flowers are associated with death as they symbolised that in death, one would regain the purity and innocence that they had lost in their lifetime.

Heart notes: Vanilla because, duh, that’s one of his song titles. And tobacco leaf as he used to be quite heavy smoker.

Base notes: white musk – maybe he doesn’t appeal to everyone, but he does have his own brand of charisma, hence y’know the musk note is kind of appropriate here. Plus rosewood because it is used in many music instruments, including the piano, which he can play, since he had his first lesson at the age of three.

I’d think that the overall liquid should be a pale yellow-gold colour, housed in a skull shaped perfume bottle, edged in black.

Also, before you think Gackt is all about doom and gloom and acting cool, he does have his hilarious dorky side:

makeup skillz

I have watched too many animes and been in love with too many jrock bands to be surprised by the twist, but I really liked the concept of this Shiseido ad, and I guess I love how people can become androgynous? Also, makeup is cool, haha, but you already knew my stand on putting war paint on faces.