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Friday, September 30, 2016

Reading/Watching Log #9

I'm so close to finishing my very last assignment, yet I also managed to get a lot of reading and viewing done this month, finally making a decent dent in that giant TBR pile stacked up against my wall, and the never-ending stream of shows that I've been meaning to watch.
In any case, I ploughed through assassins, vigilantes, Templars, werewolves, Russian aristocrats, post-apocalyptic hit-men – wow, it was a really violent month.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Standing Tall #15

This sculpture doesn't look too impressive from a distance, but on closer inspection it's actually quite a thoughtful design in the context of the earthquake rebuild. The silvery tapa flowers represent the beauty that's slowly emerging among the grime and rust of the damage, and when you look closely, you can see there's a light base coat beneath the darker exterior.
Designed by Troy Gutry, it suits its name Beauty Amongst the Rust, but also its surroundings: Victoria Square. This was one of the few public places in central Christchurch that remained relatively undamaged by the quakes, and the statue of Queen Victoria needed no repair work whatsoever (you'd expect nothing less from Queen Victoria).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Legend of Korra: Rebel Spirits and The Southern Lights

Hey guys, I know it's been dead around here lately, but I'm currently swamped with assignments, work, bad weather and a lingering illness. Fun times. So in order to keep this blog relevant until I can return my full attention to the last three episodes of The Musketeers and all the other half-finished posts that have been stagnating on Microsoft Word, I've delved into my now-defunct LiveJournal and resurrected some reviews that I originally made there.
Back in 2012 I reviewed the entirety of The Legend of Korra's first season, and continued with the second season in two-part instalments, being a little lukewarm on the show after the somewhat confusing Book: Air.  But the fact that it was called Spirits reeled me in, and I ended up enjoying it immensely by its second half – in fact, I like it more than Air, even though it seems to be ranked last by most fans of the franchise.
I rewatched the whole thing on DVD recently and found that most of my thoughts and feelings about season two remain the same as they did back in 2013, so I'm cut-and-pasting the posts I wrote at the time here for posterity (and having done so, my reviews for all four seasons of the show will be on this blog).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Woman of the Month: Eliza Hamilton

Eliza Hamilton from Hamilton
I've delayed her coverage for two months now, so it's well past time to focus on Eliza Hamilton née Schuyler – who also happens to be the first female character from the theatre (who in turn is based on a real woman) I've showcased on this blog. Eliza is best known as the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and her characterization is based on feminine attributes that are seldom lauded, always expected, and often demeaned: steadfastness, clemency, and endurance.
She gets three key lines over the course of the show. In the first she implores her husband: "let me be part of the narrative." For Eliza and her sister Angelica, life is lived on the outskirts of the history that's being made all around them. But whereas Angelica is outgoing and astute (her refrain is "I will never be satisfied", in contrast with Eliza's "that would be enough") she can never enter the man's sphere in order to have the influence she longs for.
Eliza is more content with domesticity and motherhood, but also knows that the work she does will never be as respected as that of her husband's. And she's right. In the wake of Alexander's betrayal and her own public humiliation, she sings: "I'm erasing myself from the narrative."
It's an ingenious way of according her agency in a situation where she otherwise has none, portraying her as burning Hamilton's letters and singing: "let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted when you broke her heart ... the world has no right to my heart, the world has no place in our bed, they don't get to know what I said." She becomes the custodian of what does and does not get recorded in the history books, with the show positing that the lack of information about Eliza's thoughts and feelings at this time was not due to the indifference of male historians, but a direct result of her own actions.  
Yet finally, in the show's closing number Eliza steps forward and announces: "I put myself back in the narrative", going on to list her many achievements after Hamilton's death: interviewing soldiers, raising funds for the Washington Monument, speaking out against slavery, and opening the first private orphanage in New York City.
Hamilton therefore closes on a note of Eliza's achievements that take place after her role as wife to Alexander, and reemphasises her importance in what we know about her husband's life, especially in comparison to what we know about her. It's an extraordinarily clever way of commenting on history's lack of interest in women: by putting Eliza in control of the narrative that is told to this day.
As Constance Gibbs said: "Eliza Hamilton makes it clear that without women, even some of history’s smartest, most powerful, most talented men would be resting in obscurity. Without her, this amazing piece of art, this life-changing phenomenon couldn’t exist. And for that, she is the true hero of Hamilton."