Toy Story of Terror

Since the Halloween issue of the student newspaper’s out and I didn’t manage to review this, I may as well do it here.

Toy Story of Terror

As we’ve seen with holiday specials of childrens’ movies *coughShrek*, these things rarely, if ever, bring new things to the table. But as always Pixar delivers with its first ever TV special.

The movie puts Woody (Tom Hanks) and a portion of the gang on a roadtrip with Bonnie and her mom, with an overnight stop at a creepy motel. Perfect horror movie setting, according to the resident thespian Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), who narrates, and deconstructs, their predicament as if they *were* in a classic horror film.

Until the toys start disappearing. Now Jessie has to figure out what’s happening and come out alive. Well, not boxed.

And that’s an interesting point I’d like to make: in true horror fashion, we get the Final Girl in Jessie, with Woody and the rest playing as her sidekicks this time. If you’ve seen the main three films (if you haven’t,  where the hell have you been?!), Jessie has a crippling fear of being abandoned. This film exploits that wonderfully and tastefully. She’s put into this situation many Final Girls are put into and for the most part, she plays it well without reducing her character into a screaming, helpless blow to feminists.

The story itself is well done too. Don’t expect a tearjerker like Toy Story 3, it’s popcorn fodder. It knows what it’s about and doesn’t go beyond. No complex backstories, no shark-jumping, just another awesome adventure with Bonnie’s toys.

For the film buffs among the audience, Mr. Pricklepants is delivering the genre-savvy comedy in spades. He steals the show completely whenever he’s on screen, and fits the comic relief very nicely without being a buttmonkey. He not so much breaks the fourth wall, more sits on it and tickles its funny bits until good stuff comes out. And lest we forget Combat Carl, played by Carl Weathers, giving us manly Predator feels throughout.

All in all, Toy Story of Terror is another wonderful romp with Bonnie’s toys, and a gentle poke at the horror genre that we’ve all grown to love. Go and watch it.


Story Treatment.

Here’s the treatment, or rather, a pitch, for a script I have to do for my course.

“A group of mercenaries march across a ruin on a dark, grey, lifeless field. Their leader, Mark, inspects the surroundings, checking for any rebels in the area. The bounty given wasn’t much, but for them it was a stepping stone towards-”

The dramatic young man was cut off by the even younger woman by his side, holding a homemade rifle in bright blue. He himself holds a shotgun in bright orange, clad in survivalist gear. Mark, holding an assault rifle in the same blue as the rifle, signals everyone quietly to a snuffed out campfire. The girl, Anna, checks the coals.

“Warm. They saw us. Ambush.”

Just as she stands up, Mark pulls everyone down. Gunfire from all sides. Everyone scrambles to cover. They’re pinned down. Mark by the opening, Anna inside an alcove, and Ryan keeping his head down behind a wall, shots ricocheting by his ear.

Ryan leaps out. “Anna! I’ll draw their fire! See where it’s coming from, then take them out!”

“That’s stupid! Mark’s the farthest in, cover him and take them out one by one!”

Too late. Ryan leaps out of cover and runs across the open, bullets raining down from every direction. A shot ricochets off the floor, nicks him in the leg. He hits the ground hard. Mark jumps out of cover, lifts Ryan off the floor and scrambles towards a broken pillar. Ryan thanks him, gripping his bleeding leg.

He answers with a glare, moving his arm to reveal a mass of blood pooling from under his vest.

The hellfire stops. Footsteps coming towards them. Canned orders over radio.

Ryan ignores the screaming pain from his now blood-drenched leg and leans on the wall, in full view, and opens fire on the enemy. Each shot crushing his shoulder further into the wall. His vest is peppered with bullets.

Mark launches himself off of cover, his shoulder hitting the gravel as he opens fire on their ambushers. A white hot pain sears through his shoulder as a bullet tears through. It doesn’t stop his barrage. He lets out a last cry as he hears the dead man’s click, followed by bullets whizzing past his ear before a last shot tears through the middle of his forehead.

Holding back tears, Anna readies her rifle and in a split second, two of the group’s heads burst open like pomegranates. She strafes towards Mark and takes a split-second to look at his cold eyes before taking aim once more.

A hail of gunfire is heard, punctuated by a broken voice over the radio. “We’re done here.”

Kitchen table. Dice, food and papers everywhere. Toy versions of their weapons on the side. Anna berates the other two for “playing hero”.

“What the hell was that, GM?!”

“Should’ve trusted Anna, bro. New game?”

So yeah.


Ikigai (生き甲斐) is the Okinawan concept of “reason”. It’s a reason to get up in the morning.

Recently, I’ve been in a slump. Like a massive one. And it was because I realised I’ve already fulfilled that ikigai I once had: get to University and become myself.

Once I realised that, I… kinda lost purpose. It’s like reaching the peak of Everest after a lifetime of preparation and asking yourself “…now what?”. At first it’s liberating, then it becomes stifling. Because once you’re there, you’re looking for a new place to get to. A new goal to reach. A new ikigai.

And I think I’m back. After speaking to a lot of people about the slump, I think I found my new reason.

I adore the exchange of ideas. I love arguing. And most of all, I love being wrong. I love it when I present a viewpoint to someone and then they blow my brain into a thousand pieces with new facts which force me to rethink what I know. Because I never had that.

Which is why I’m gunning for a Masters’ degree, then getting work as a part-time creative fellow. That way I can focus on creative exploits like writing, while getting that challenge of ideas as a seminar tutor.

It’s also why I’m posting again. I’m gonna avoid any “me” stuff and post more ideas stuff.

So yeah.

Because I’m bored: Character outfits!

I’ve always had the idea brewing in my head, but never really got round to it. I may not even finish, but yeah.

I decided to make an outfit page for one of my favouri-I mean liked characters in Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire if you’re feeling purist), Jon Snow. It’s more of a fashion choice based on his outfit, rather than a direct copy.

ImageThe aim here is to emulate his Night’s Watch uniform, while still keeping a bit of that charm he has. So of course, we start with the jacket ( But Jay, you ask, shouldn’t the coat be furrier? Or longer? I thought that as well, but Snow is not one to be showing off his royal lineage, and I feel that an outright fur-lined trench coat would be betraying that modesty our young bastard has.

For the inside, I chose a polyester turtleneck jacket ( because one, the North is a hell of a cold place, and it adds structure to the outfit, to emulate his armor and give the jacket that bulk without looking fluffy.

The cargo pants ( I decided were to emulate Snow’s trait as a man of the wilderness, as well as to keep the structured, layered look of the outfit. It’s not flashy either, which is characteristic of both the Night’s Watch and Jon himself.

This theme goes double for the boots (I kinda lost the link), which again I made sure was fit for purpose, sturdy and structured without being flashy.

I was very tempted to add more silvers and whites to the outfit for Ghost, or even a teeny wolf brooch or buckle, but it wouldn’t be fitting of Jon’s character.

On the past.

“There are many parts of my youth that I’m not proud of. There were… loose threads. Untidy parts of me I’d like to remove. But when I pulled on those threads, It unravelled the tapestry of my life.”
-Captain Jean-Luc Picard

I should really adopt this mindset.

I’ve always viewed my past as something personal, something I don’t want to share with people, simply out of principle. I may share events, recollect them, but rarely are they ever meaningful. I’ve only let a select few really look into my past, and so far, only one person hasn’t used it against me.

I always thought it made me strong, being able to hide my past sins, and starting anew. I never realised it was akin to burning the previous chapters of a book.

“So Jay, why don’t you want to go home?”

Most people ask me this question. Logically, it would be in my favour to head home right now: I get money, I get free meals, and no bills to pay.

But whenever people say home, they usually refer to where they came from. Home to me is where I feel like myself. It’s where I feel safe, and right now, I treat Aber as home. It’s weird, I know, but I’m more comfortable in a small town with friends rather than in a secure house with my parents. It’s mostly the reason I don’t want to leave.

I’ve made a completely different life here, and going back to Cardiff feels like regressing, for me.

Re: Woolwich

“Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men.” (Surah al-Mā’ida 5:32)

At face value, this seems aimed towards any Muslim who decides to kill a soldier unprovoked. But it isn’t. This is for those who think that Islam is a religion of hate and violence. Just like any religion, it has its own faults but it is not a vehicle for random acts of manslaughter.

Religion of any kind should not be a pathway for those to exact their own bloody vengeance on each other. It is not a superiority card that people can wave over other people and say they’re better because their religion is prettier.

So for anyone reading this, if you indeed want to place the blame on someone, place the blame on the individual. These men decided to taint their own religion, to the public eye, with the blood of an innocent man.

In other news, this is procrastination.

For posterity: how I see what’s happened to me.

It’s much easier to just have it here than trawl through facebook. Don’t fret though, the storm’s passed and I’m fine. I just want this to be on record.

“To answer the question I’d rather not publish:

What happened? Let’s do a little exercise. (Trigger warning)

You wake up and everyone calls you Tony. You look in the mirror, and you see someone else. Well, sort of. You know it’s you, but with extra bits, and some missing ones. A goatee, short hair and body hair all over. You explain to someone that your name’s not Tony. But everyone calls you it anyway. You look at your official records: Antonio Gonzales. All other records match. You explain to someone that your body isn’t yours. They call you delusional. A snowflake. An attentionwhore. It drives you insane. It keeps you awake at night. Then you start thinking “maybe they’re right.”

Maybe you are being delusional. Maybe you are indeed Tony. I mean they treat you well, right? You have friends, you have family, everyone likes you. But not you. You know for a goddamn fact that that’s not you. And you slowly try to change. Wear things you wouldn’t normally wear. Experiment with your look. Then people start calling you out on it. “Why is Tony being like that?” You explain that it just feels right, and now everyone stares at you differently, like you’re acting out because people don’t love you, or whatever bullcrap they say. It all sounds the same.

Then one day, you snap. You see yourself in the mirror. And you realise what was wrong all along. So you start to change. Call yourself by *your* name, not Tony. And people call you out on it. “You’re being crazy. That’s not natural, what you’re doing. You should be ashamed. What will your family think?”

And that is why the suicide rate for trans* people is 45%. That’s success rate, not attempt rate.”

According to OkCupid…

Loving, hopeful, open. Likely to carry on an romance from afar. You are The Window Shopper.

You take love as opportunities come, which can lead to a high-anxiety, but high-flying romantic life. You’re a genuinely sweet person, not saccharine at all, so it’s likely that the relationships you have had and will have will be happy ones. You’ve had a fair amount of love experience for your age, and there’ll be much more to come.

Part of why we know this is that, of all female types, you are the most prone to sudden, ferocious crushes. Your results indicate that you’re especially capable of obsessing over a guy you just met. Obviously, passion like this makes for an intense existence. It can also make for soul-destroying letdowns.

Your ideal match is someone who’ll love you back with equal fire, and someone you’ve grown to love slowly. A self-involved or pessimistic man is especially bad. Though you’re drawn to them, avoid artists at all costs.

Sounds accurate enough.