Flawed gem: Legend of Korra finale review

WARNING: LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS

I trawled the Internet for reviews of The Legend of Korra season finale.

Make no mistake; I loved it to bits. I was just curious about what other people thought.

Then I stumbled across a review (didn’t bother saving the link, sorry) calling the finale a major disappointment, saying the episode and the whole show was riddled with bad writing and Korra got “handed everything” including the Avatar status.

I was a little befuddled. Honestly, if you compare all the schlock you get on TV, LoK has some of the better writing around. And Korra being “handed everything”? Maybe in the beginning but she had her own struggles too.

Korra’s journey differed a lot from Aang’s. Part of the reason she is who she is was due to Aang’s intervention. He tasked the Fellowship of the White Lotus to find Korra, keep her safe and guide her through mastering the elements.

I think Aang’s previous hardships motivated him to make sure that the next Avatar would have an easier time than he did. Korra was able to spend years honing her water, fire and earth bending to prodigious levels. Aang on the other hand was forced to “get it over with” while training the other elements so he could achieve the Avatar state and defeat Lord Ozai. I think he wanted to spare Korra that.

Korra had her own challenges; not the same as Aang’s but they were still things she needed to work on. The combination of growing up in a safe cocoon and her tempestuous nature made “adjusting” fairly challenging from her first day in Republic City.

What annoys me is the criticism about how Korra discovers she can airbend. “Why didn’t she discover her ability all the other times when people were in danger, huh? Why does it have to be for Mako?”

All those other times, Korra had the other elements at her disposal. It makes sense that Korra reaches past the barrier that separates herself from the Air element once her connection to the others were separated. If you notice, even the way she uses Air isn’t the way Aang uses it – she punches and blasts the air the way she uses fire, a lot different from the fluid grace Aang employed.

Korra started out brash and headstrong, but Amon forces her to learn fear and caution. She puts aside her own feelings about Mako in consideration of Asami. Do you think it would be easy to have to see the man you love with someone else every single day? At least Aang never had to wake up to seeing Katara doing smoochy faces with someone else everyday.

Sure, it would have been nice to see secondary characters fleshed out a bit more. But given the season had only 12 episodes that would have been a tall order. Still, Lin Bei Fong’s character was given enough love. The writers could have easily let her become a caricature, a slapstick cranky nemesis of sorts but Lin got to show courage and compassion along with her kickass metal bending. Her character arc was one of my favourite in the series and I confess I shed tears when Amon took her bending away.

On another note: When I saw Tenzin and his brood trussed up like lambs to the slaughter, I think I nearly bawled. NOOO NOT THE AIRBABIES NOOOO.

The final 5 minutes seemed a bit rushed to be honest: OK LET’S MAKE AANG AND ALL THE OTHER AVATARS APPEAR YEAH AND GIVE LIN HER BENDING BACK AND HEY MAKE KORRA FINALLY ACHIEVE AVATAR STATE!!!!

Still, only the hardest of hearts wouldn’t be somewhat pleased to see Korra and Mako finally just suck face already. All in all, I give the episode a firm 8 out of 10.

 

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NenekTatabahasa: About ‘tentang’ and ‘mengenai’

This is the first post in a hopefully regular series about the deceptively easy-to-learn Bahasa Malaysia.

Tentang and mengenai are words often used interchangeably by the populace, used as the equivalent of the English “about”.

My argument is that translation-wise, tentang is the preferred word for about.

“Tentang” is a kata sendi nama or the equivalent of the English preposition (not proposition, you dirty, dirty minds).

Examples:

Mereka berbincang tentang masalah negara. (They spoke about the country’s problems)
Kami berbual tentang kejadian rompakan itu. (We spoke about the robbery)

Other kata sendi nama include: di,ke,dari,daripada,kepada,pada,bagi,demi,tentang,sejak,seperti,akan,terhadap,oleh,hingga,antara, untuk,dengan,dalam,sampai.

Notice that mengenai is not listed. This is because mengenai is actually a kata kerja (verb) that means kena pada (to hit).

Tembakan pemburu itu mengenai sasarannya. (The hunter’s shot hit its target)
Bola yang ditendangnya mengenai palang gol. (The ball that he/she kicked hit the goal post)

Does this mean that you can’t use mengenai to mean about?

Not necessarily. This is because mengenai, like melalui (to go through), mengikuti (to follow), and menerusi (via) are all words used as prepositions, despite being in actuality verbs.

My personal leanings is that if you mean “about” or wish to translate “about”, use tentang as your first choice but use mengenai as a variation.

For instance, say “Hari ini saya ingin bercakap tentang buku Hakim Salleh mengenai beruang.” But some might prefer to use mengenai instead, which is a personal choice but here’s a pro-tip:

Few things mark your amateurish grip of the language as much as overuse of mengenai. It’s not a bad word, but use tentang as well, whenever its use is warranted.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

 

The great kiddy experiment

Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony 2011

Photo for illustrative purposes; my tykes were smaller and not the stand still type. (Photo credit: SFA Union City)

For the past couple of months, I’ve been teaching speech and drama…to toddlers.

It wasn’t what I signed up for. A friend recommended I approach a local children’s drama centre about teaching musical theatre as it’s something I’m passionate about.

Instead I found myself standing in for a teacher who had to stop teaching a session halfway, doing trial or “exhibition” classes for a centre as well as help out with a promotional roadshow.

I thought, “Heck, why not?” New learning experiences are good, right?

At the end of it all, I was feeling drained and incompetent. Something like my stint at PR where I wondered if I was doing anything right at all.

I’d come in with a shiny lesson plan…only to have blank faces staring at me or have to quickly come up with improvised games. The latter consisted of a whole lot of running, man, was there a lot of running. I think I spent at least half my lessons running in imaginary jungles, through the sea, playing sharks and fishes/pirates and sailors/freeze tag.

The greatest takeway for me was, with Pre-K kids…WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND WAYS TO GIVE OUT STICKERS. Not that I believe in bribery. It was more like convincing kids to find goals and once those goals were reached, spoils would be dealt. But call it what you will.

There were days though that were good. Like one class where I had a whole room of parents “observing” my class before deciding whether to plonk good money on it. Boy, was there a lot of pressure. The first 20 minutes were rough. The kids were apprehensive, I was nervous but by the end of it, the kids were huddled around me and one of them was reading a story out loud for me from a book. It was like…magic.

In the end, I decided to retire my preschooler drama teacher cap. It’s far too exhausting to fit into my hectic schedule – 4 hours of prep for one class is more than I can deal with right now. Maybe someday that’ll change.

Things I learned:

1. Kids have excellent BS detectors. Don’t try to be someone else around kids. Be you, at your best. Trying to be extroverted when you’re not just means you’ll come across as fake and few things repel kids more than put-on smiles or feigned enthusiasm. Once I stopped beating myself up about my relative inexperience and trusted in my own capabilities, kids became easier to work with.

2. Don’t get so stuck on an outcome. I realised that the best environment I could create was a fluid one where I could experiment and be flexible. If one activity wasn’t working out, try another.  One kid I had came in crying and didn’t want to leave his mother’s side but by the end of it he was running around, playing games, telling me about his trip to Disneyland and joining in a group rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

3. Kids need to learn there is nothing wrong with them. So many parents came in with kids with “problems”. “He doesn’t talk”, “He’s too shy”, “She needs to open up”, “What does he/she need to improve on?”

To all you parents, I just want to say there is nothing you need to “fix”. Your children are lovable and worthy of love – and that’s what you need to impart to them. I treat my classes as a way for kids to have the chance to make new friends, discover how much fun it can be to let their inner performer out to play and along the way learn other great skills like working as an ensemble, basics of performing and harnessing their imaginations via dramatic play.

What I love most with the kids is when they talk to me and tell me things. Because for some reason, they get that I’ll listen. That I’m present and there. If more parents would do the same for their kids, the world would be a better place.

Forcing creativity or great things from your child isn’t the best way. Creativity in kids is fostered with love, patience and structure. Let your kids surprise you, so you’ll never be disappointed.

 

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Damn you, Bioware

When my boyfriend blew through my copies of Mass Effect, I was curious about what he found compelling about the series. I owned both ME1 and ME2 for the PC but had given up on the games after finding the FPS elements unnerving.

As ME3 rolled around, I decided to give Mass Effect a chance and found myself sucked into a sci-fi world I hadn’t imagined I’d love.

What drew me in the most was the writing. With each iteration, Mass Effect’s writing got stronger, the characterisation deeper, the human element more compelling.

The following video clip (WARNING SPOILERS) is of a scene that had me crying my eyes out for a whole half-hour. I have never felt this much emotional investment in a game and now that I’ve finished playing ME3, I miss it so much I’d be playing it again right this instant…if it wasn’t for the colossal letdown of the final 10 minutes of the game.

But honestly this one scene, made all three games of the series worth it. Now I hope Bioware fixes the damn ending even if it requires me throwing more money at them for a do-over.

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The price we will not pay

I was reminded yesterday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A German Lutheran priest, he spoke out against the Nazi party from the start and he paid for it with his life.

There are too many champagne nationalists these days, I think. They talk about or campaign for things all from the safety and comfort of their homes or cafes. But big things require big sacrifices. And I’m not so sure the people who start all these armchair activism endeavours are prepared to give up more than the price of a latte.

What would I give up? Would I have the courage of Bonhoeffer to speak the truth, even if it would mean I could ultimately lose my life?

I’d like to think so but part of me wonders if I would, in the end, give in to my own cowardice.

Sub-editor adventures: sobriety optional

Disclaimer: Some parts are exaggerated because I try too hard to be funny. So colleagues, please try not to be offended. Really, try.

So it’s been a month since I’ve started. It’s taking some getting used to, especially the getting up really early bits. A typical morning shift goes thus-ly:

6.45am: First alarm clock rings. Grunt and roll over.

6.50am: Second alarm clock rings. Roll over and grab laptop from side of bed. Commence Hunt-for-the-Mouse-Glasses-Power Cable.

6.55-7.00am: Boot laptop. Greet lead sub of the day, find out when it’s my turn to HOLD THE RABID COMMENTERS BACK.

7-8am: Rush to update all my sections. Open up CMS/Newswires/email and fire up Word, TextEdit and image editor.

Hope to God there’s no more than one Bahasa Malaysia piece to sub/upload.

Because if that happens: think a world of pain.

No one should have to translate a lot of copy at 7am in the freaking morning. It is far too early to have to deal with things like “big mess” translated as “kotoran dasyat”. (True and hilarious story)

Start translations by: hitting head many times with a heavy object, preferably a dictionary. It numbs you to the pain.

Convert newswires to house style. Find pretty pictures, resize them and try not to go over 17-18kb a picture. Without the pictures looking like the ones you take drunk in the club with your mobile phone.

8-12pm: Remain cautiously optimistic and mostly sane. Play new game: Upload Hottest Wirepieces of the Day before Chief Editor Beats You to It. If Chief tells you to post something you personally don’t find newsworthy (but we already ran a piece on dancing seals! Last week!), quell your inner annoying pedant and upload it anyway.

SOMETIME, SOMEHOW: Break for lunch. Though the first thing I usually do is put down my laptop and roll over for a quick 5-10 min nap. Staring at computer screens for long periods can cause major eye fatigue/strain. If brother/boyfriend/BFF is around: bully them into buying you food/taking you out for lunch.

1pm: Start on reader’s comments. Lose faith in humanity (again). Wonder at commenters’ insistence of WRITING ALL IN CAPS, not speling rite and ignore of grammer rule.

2-4pm: Keep an eye on the inbox and wires, peep at what other sites are doing when you have time (not often). In last few minutes, let chief sub know if there’s anything of note the next batch of subs. Don’t bother letting them know some of our commenters are evil, evil people. They know that already.

4pm: End of shift, hallelujah. Put down laptop. Roll over. For another nap.

I love my job.

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The disease of “Someday I’ll”

I think we all know that person or persons who constantly regale you with great deeds done…in progress.

They talk about their great novel.
Or breakthrough album.
Or trip to the Amazon.
Or leaving that job they hate so, so much.

But dreamers and doers are often not the same person.

It’s easy to fantasise but realities like mortgages, children and the like often put paid to lofty ambitions.

It’s all right to consciously bid goodbye to dreams and decide you want to prioritise your family or career.

But some people let their thwarted hopes eat them alive. I watched my mother let her bitterness poison her marriage and household. I grew up believing that marriage was nothing more than a stifling cage and my mother the best example of a clipped bird that in anger turned on its own brood.

Forgive yourself for letting some things pass you by.

Forgive the people who you sacrificed your dreams for, whether they be your spouse, children or parents.

The simple truth is that you must live with your choices and that in the end, you have no one but yourself to answer to. Of course the religionists will bring God into the equation but to thine own self, be true as Shakespeare says.

Either wait for the right time to chase your dreams, or be willing to accomodate a little time in your current schedule for them. If you can’t see yourself doing either then let your dreams go. Maybe with a little sadness or wistfulness but own your choices. Life is too short for regrets.

The problem with allowing comments

…is that it breeds the anonymous trolls.

The Job’s comments policy is very clear, IMHO:

Please refrain from comments of a racist, sexist, personal, vulgar or derogatory nature and note that comments can be edited, rewritten for clarity or to avoid questionable issues. We also reserve the right to delete off-topic comments.

Not brain science, right?

Tell that to the many readers who think it is OK to go against the comment policy. Let’s not get started on the likes who write like this:

“PARTI XXXX ARE #&#&#&#&# AND @*#*#*#*# EH BLOODY POLITICIAN A YOU ARE A %*$*$*$*#(( ”

Moderating comments is soul-destroying.

Bad language.

Bad grammar.

Bad taste. In humour.

And pretty much every single commenter considers it his/her “right” to be published on the site. Am mystified. And also thinking I need to stock up on a lot of mindnumbing substances.

Crawling out of the comfort zone

Why, yes, it’s the new job post.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. But the path towards “doing well” isn’t always easy.

It’s been about a week relearning the subeditor routine. Working, for me, requires a rhythm, a structure and a routine that is flexible while also being familiar.

There’s been a lot to get used to. Shifts, for instance. On morning shifts, I wake up at 6.45am and finish up work at 4pm. Afternoons mean 4pm to 12am manning the subsdesk.

The multitasking is a bit of a headache. Scanning the newswires and emails for things to put up, and in the morning it’s a mad rush to update all the sections. I admit the first half hour after waking up my mind is still hazy but it gets better as the day goes on.

Until I get to moderating the site’s comments. By the 20th comment, I usually feel like slashing my wrists. Anonymous commenters do not hesitate to unleash the vitriol. I just wish they would, oh, spell better.

So I’ve been learning things the hard way – silly mistakes, cluelessness as to the daily work routine, muddled communications. But the people I’ve been working with have been the patient, kind and professional sort. So I’ve nothing to complain about in that regard.

I hope I’ll get into the groove by the end of the month and become less of a liability. Setting small goals, making baby steps. By the end of the month, may this post remind me how far I’ve come since I wrote this.

Crossed fingers!

So much for less writing…

The thing about being in the Malaysian media…it rarely gets boring.

Found time to write two “Side Views” pieces for TMI. “Side Views” is for viewpoints and opinion pieces outside TMI’s “Opinion” pages. The latter is usually reserved for TMI’s regular columnists.

Despite being one of the aforementioned regular columnists, there were some things that made more sense expressing on TMI than just, say, on the blog.

One was the embarrassing gaffe by the Ministry of Defence. What riled me was that some tried to defend the mistake. You do not “defend” something as laughable as the page was.

When you can’t defend the Ministry of Defence

Then the surprising Anwar Sodomy II acquittal happened. Wasn’t planning on writing about it but my super said, “Why not?” I concurred.

901: A day for cautious optimism

In other news, am amazed people still read my opinionated blather. I try.