Behold- I’ll cry you a river

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I was musing on something the other night as I watched Edward Scissorhands for the umpteenth time, while blubbering like a baby. Why do I cry during so many movies? I realise that many sad parts in movies can move someone such as myself to tears but I mean: movies, books, comics, manga, songs with a bit of a sad tune- they ALL make me start crying. Even if they aren’t supposed to be emotional or if they don’t have any meaning whatsoever. I would put it down to hormones if it was every now and then but seriously, I can be moved to tears any time of the month. Give me something cheesy to watch including love themes, scapegoats, martyrs, animals that are hurt and BAM! Here come the waterworks.

“You can still find me dancing in the snow…” *sob sob*

It can be quite embarrassing and hard to tell when it will happen as well. A really strong and loud (but not particularly sad) piece of non-lyrical music will come on and tears spring to my eyes. Why? I know music can inexplainably enable people to feel emotions related to the music but still…why? I can read a book with a protagonist who I love and empathise with and if any other character does something to them, forget it. I will hate that character no matter what because they hurt the character which is my favourite. Maybe I just emotionally attach myself to characters in books and movies (still doesn’t fully explain the music) and this elicits my emotions.

I swear each time I watch a movie- the sappier the better- and I start crying, my partner T must inwardly roll his eyes. This is how frequent it is. Quite often when a sad part in a movie begins I already notice him watching me from the corner of my eye. He expects it- I expect it. Then, on queue. The tears. “B..b…but they loved eachother…*sniff* they should be together….” *sobs louder*.

So, now that I’ve told you how much of a softy I am- here are some of my favourite tear-jerkers.

  • -The Notebook (well of course)
  • -V for Vendetta
  • -Howl’s Moving Castle (I love love love anime and Miyazaki is amazing)
  • -Cruel Intentions
  • -Moulin Rouge (one of my all time fave movies)
  • -Gladiator
  • -One Day (the book was fantastic- read it first!)
  • -The Way We Were
  • Memoirs of a Geisha

Of course, this is a very short list and there are a myriad of movies that make me wail like a banshee. If you’re ever sitting in the cinema and some girl behind you is sobbing her heart out- say hi- I like meeting new people 😉

And now, a few pics of Delilah looking really evil. I kid you not. I am not religious, so I apologise if these photos are at all sacreligious to anyone. I was going through my phone files and these photos were too cute and funny to not marvel over after I saw  them on my computer in larger form. This is in my backyard and it is a baptismal font (I think this is what it is called) that is decorational, as the building I live in is an ex-catholic orphanage. There used to be a plant in it but it has since been removed due to frost and it is now Delilah’s favourite hiding spot. So if I come outside and can’t find her she is often ducked down in the middle of it. On this particular day the sun was really bright and at the perfect height that it made her eyes absolutely glow. Giving these photos of a possessed cat.

Don’t come any closer- you’ve been warned…

And just so you don’t think Delilah is plotting world domination with her manly kitty moustache, here is a photo proving she is just too lazy.

So there you have it. Now I’m off to rewatch a movie for a uni assignment and cry at the end for the fourth time. And counting.

Advertisements

I need your lovin’ like the sunshine

So I’m sitting here alone today (T is at work), painting my nails, listening to music and just thinking. I don’t want to be thinking in all honesty but my thoughts won’t stop. (Thus the post- I can’t study, can’t do anything.) They are just piling up high with my emotions that I want to temporarily escape. My grandfather has been unwell lately but now it has gotten too much for him. You expect it one day- everyone ages, everyone loses their grandparents. But it is so hard when you love someone and don’t want to say goodbye.

T has been perfect and he lends me strength when my own fails. It is always a suprise when you realise how much you can love another person. You think you know how much and then they say or do something and it hits you tenfold. T is my pillar- I don’t know what I would do without him.

I wrote this about T one morning (unbeknownst to him):

‘I lay, head on its side, tracing the outline of his full lips. Like two halves of a perfect, pink love heart, slightly parted in the middle as he exhales a sweet breath. I’m mystified.’

And even now, he keeps me afloat, despite what is going on around me that threatens to pull me under. It is like he is an endless fountain pouring forth positivity and love.

I really am mystified.

Japan. My beloved.

Tags

, ,

So I’m finally back (and with some time) to reflect on what will now be… my most awesome holiday so far.

I went to Japan, Italy and Abu Dhabi during my mid year university break. It was only for a period of 3 weeks, but I had an amazing time. I also had the best of company in my partner, T and my best friend, S. Seriously, if anyone understands me the best in the world (other than my parents) it is these two. It is very hard to explain my relationship with them, being two of the most important people in my life, but it is like we just fit to make the perfect trio.The jokes kept on rolling from country to country as well as our postively, charged attitudes which seem to feed off eachothers excitement.

First things first. Japan. I’m. In. Love. I enjoyed every single, wonderful moment of the sights, people, culture and the delicious food. It really reinforced my love of the language too and I practiced a little, despite being so nervous of making mistakes!

So we arrived in Narita on our first night and thought we would go find a quick meal before resting up for the next day. I was absolutely giddy with excitement. Me: “Look- there’s a Japanese person!” T: “Careful- there’s a pole.” Me: “Oh wow! The signs are Japanese. I can read that one!” T: “Stop! Sarah- there’s a car coming.” And so it went on as I flew across the pavement- an excited (maybe crazy- depends on how you look at it) grin platered on my face, with T in tow. But this was just to be my slight introduction to Japan. Little did I realise I would love it so much that I would insist that we stay for a majority of our trip. Japan was my addiction- I had dreamt of it for so long that I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t imagine my life without Japan. But now, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The next morning we awoke to loud traffic and mobs of imaculately dressed office workers, milling about the station and cramming themselves into packed trains. It was so eye-opening. I have never seen subway trains so busy, so packed, yet so clean and free of graffiti. It was apparent that this perfection spilt up onto the streets of Tokyo- for the sheer size- everything is so clean. I realise I’m going on alot about cleanliness but really, this is the largest city I have ever been to and the cleanest. It is impressive to say in the least.

For the first few days we found ourselves constantly lost while trying to work out the subway system. But every time we stood to the side, deciphering our map with a perplexed frown, a wonderfully kind person would come over and help us (this happened a few times). Always with a helpful air and perfect english that put my own Japanese skills to shame. This didn’t stop me however from replying in Japanese, how grateful we were to have their help. I’ve never met people who are so kind and patient. As I stumbled across my words- they would take us to the correct stop, sometimes even ride the train with us asking where we were from. I remember on a particularly rushed morning, I was yanking my heavy suitcase up the stairs to no avail. A man in his fifties walked up to me and just said “please”. Before I could reply, he carried my suitcase effortlessly up the stairs and placed it neatly above ground with a bow. I bowed back and thanked him as humbly as I could, I was really touched. Don’t get me wrong, I have been helped out by people before. I just felt incredibly welcomed to this foreign country that I hadn’t even been in for a full two days.

So T and I had a week to sightsee, eat, shop and basically stare in wonderment at the expansive city before S started holidays and met us in Japan. So one day we went to the highest viewing platform of Tokyo Tower which was amazing. Not only does it resemble the Eiffel Tower in structure, but no matter what direction your gaze falls upon, the city stretches endlessly into the distance. We also went to the Imperial Palace gardens and just strolled amongst the hushed greenery- it is so amazing in contrast to the bustling city just outside the walls. You could almost be somewhere else until you see a high rise building peeking from the distance. There were guard houses (the only remaining of several) that used to be inhabited by soldiers who would protect the emperor from enemy attacks along time ago. There were several different areas to the gardens intercepted by roads but the most beautiful had to be the orchid garden. With orchids of so many different colours and running waterfalls bubbling in the background, it was so peaceful.

Another day we went to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka. If you remember, this is the one thing I told myself I would not miss out on. The whole museum from the outside looks like a mansion covered in vines with several stories and rooms filled with paraphenalia from the movies and rooms replicating Miyazaki’s own home offices. These rooms were decorated to minute details such as what books he read (which were stacked in shelves), pencils and art tools were spread across desks with reams of paper and incredible sketches which were haphazardly, yet artfully strung all over the walls. There was also an exclusive, short film with the main characters from Tonari no Totoro which was so heart-warming and cute to watch. So before we left, naturally I went crazy in the souvenir shop and got a nice range of pens, hand towels, fans, phone charms- you name it. Even just looking at the cuddly Totoro on my shelf now gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!

We also went shopping and sightseeing in heaps of different places including Akihabara (above) which was so fascinating and just downright cool. There were so many different shops, signs and colours and pretty girls dressed up as anime stereotypes to advertise maid cafes. My brain was in overload from constantly averting my gaze and taking in even more sights. My wallet was definitely lighter after leaving but when you are surrounded by cute overload (like in the bazillion shops selling Hello Kitty) it is inevitable.

As it got later in the week, T and I had eaten copious amounts of sushi, tempura, soba and udon noodles and even some of Japan’s western-inspired fare (which is delicious by the way) but I could not get enough of the cakes in the underground level of the Department stores, or Depachika (I may have written that wrong). They are so beautifully made and in perfect portions in tantalizing colours that you can’t help but buy them. We tried the famous strawberry shortcake outside a sweet shop in Ginza one day after browsing the windows of the high-fashion further up the street. It was not too sweet but perfect and the cream melted in your mouth. The strawberries were perfectly ripe and burst like a sweet explosion and I’m making myself hungry so I will stop right there. Having a sweet tooth I was so excited to have so many flavours of sweets to try. But one of my favourites was a blueberry mousse cheesecake that I got while T had a chocolate ganache cake. Excuse me for sounding crude, but it was like a mouth orgasm. The pictures don’t really do it justice but here is one anyway.

It was nearing the end of the week and we had been to so many places that we decided to get out of the city and do some mountain-walking/hiking (I don’t know that you’d call my attempts hiking though). We went out about an hour on the train to Mt. Takao (or Takao san) and it was a really beautiful, blue day. We passed many hikers going the opposite way who all politely greeted us and we got so used to it that we konnichiwa-ed our way all the way to the top. I got really excited when greeting a group of older people who were taking a break and I said ‘Ganbatte ne’ (which is like words of encouragement/Do your best, etc). They all smiled and bowed and started saying hello back to me and I just glowed with excitement that there were times I could actually communicate. At the top of the mountain we were really surprised to find a restaraunt, several vending machines (well, this isnt surprising- I have never seen so many of these as I have in Tokyo!) and an icecream shop. The view into the distance was breath-taking and we could see Tokyo through the trees. On the way back down there were so many shrines and stalls selling prayers, phone charms, lucky charms and foods made from rice, fruit and bean paste.

Anyway, it has taken me this long to write and I’m still going to have to cut it short for now. There are more photos to come- as well as the rest of Japan and then Italy and Abu Dhabi which I will post on soon. Yes, I am taking that with a grain of salt too- can’t trust myself lately with my time management. So many other things to mention too about uni, my work experience, etc.

All the best to whoever is reading and may you have a fabulous day! ❤

I’m back!

Greetings! It is I and no, I am not a hologram. I’m really back.

It has been quite a while and my apologies for being so neglectful to my blog. As soon I got back from overseas, my final semester of university started and I took on work experience as well. This is my way of letting any of you readers know that I am still alive-and better than ever!- and to keep an eye out because I will be typing up my holiday post very soon. With lots of photos! Yay!

Here is some digital love until I return—> <3<3<3

Signed,

an apologetic, whirlwind-busy, crazy cat girl.

 

It’s the final countdown!

Tags

, , , , , ,

Good morning! It is I, your friendly neighbourhood jitterbug! (well, just wait till my next coffee…)

I’m on the home stretch now- with this week being my last for this semester- and I am incredibly excited! I am finishing off my essay on children’s media and then I am doing some more exam study. It has been more a struggle than usual to force my brain to stay in study mode, so close to the holidays. Then again, this trimester has been a particularly tough one for motivational reasons. Don’t get me wrong- I love expanding my knowledge of mostly useless, yet fun topics and comprising mountains of essays on said topics, but getting so close to the end is making me want to do something different for a while. Soon…soon the world shall be my slimey (I know, I know-I should actually try one) and infinitely-endless-in-options, oyster. *cue evil laughter* *cough*

So, being so close to the end of this trimester’s workload why, you ask, am I typing into my blog as opposed to my word count-awaiting word processor? Because. No really, I had something better to type until I remembered I am running on five hours sleep. Aha! I am refreshing my mind from a late night of studying with writing that is both enjoyable and easy. It feels so good to type without checking back to references and making sure to properly develop the argument- ‘stick to the topic!’, etc. My mind is littered with various phrases, quotes and lists and as I type about non-academic related topics, the cobwebs begin to clear and I can breathe again!

And just in case I am too busy by the end of the week (or I have crashed after study finishes from a coffee/vitamin overdose), I leave for my first overseas trip this Sunday! Woo!

I have been drinking miso soup with lunch lately (see pretty picture!) because I keep thinking of going to Japan and all I wanna do is eat Japanese food and speak Japanese in my head, in excited anticipation (Japan, Japan, Japan!) We leave from Australia on Sunday before 11am and arrive in Narita airport at approximately 6pm (7pm Oz time). We spend a night at a nearby hotel in the Narita cbd and then train it into Tokyo to drop our luggage at a new hotel and get out there!! So much to do and see, but we have from the 3rd until about the 10th, when my awesome friend S (who is a flight-attendant) arrives. After a couple more days we will travel back to the UAE together and then onward to Europe! I will have crazy amounts of photos  and lots of stories to tell and all the time in the world (when I get back for final trimester) to type them all up.

Yummy lunch!

Gah! I. am. so. damn. excited!

Mt Fuji san, the Studio Ghibli museum, Tokyo DisneyLand, shopping, Shinto shrines, temples, shopping, Akihabara, delicious food, shopping and the best company a gal could have. I am truly blessed.

On a related note, Delilah is going on her big holiday out to the country. I have her booked into her usual cattery (she usually only stays during xmas while I visit family) and I am sad that she is going to be away from the house for 3 weeks. But she is a beautiful and perky little girl so I am sure she will make some new kitty-friends and enjoy her own break. Maybe she has an idea that something is in the works though because she has been stalking around, climbing our luggage and smelling all the new stuff we have bought for overseas.

“Just here to inspect your bags. Move along.”

Ok, well hopefully my next post shall be once I am back and raring to go for another trimester. Passport? Check. Luggage? Check. Bright, melt-your-face-off positivity? Check. Twilight? Yes, I’m lame.

It is time I go forth and consume vast amounts of coffee for this, the final countdown.

Onward!

Positive thought patterns are great, ra ra ra!

Tags

, , ,

Good morning! I’m back again for a small study break and coffee. It is another cold day but it is really beautiful with the sun beaming down and not a cloud in sight. Sometimes it is nice to just sit outside in the sun on the verandah and think about how lucky I am to be healthy and happy. I’ve been thinking of at least one thing I am grateful for each day because I don’t want to take my life for granted.

Another beautiful, blue day

I used to be quite the pessimist- particularly last year- and everything felt harder for me than I thought it was for others. I had my moments and I wasn’t permanently grumpy but as soon as I felt stress creep in, I would become a mess. Of course, I was making things feel more difficult with the negative thoughts that were weighing me down, day after day. Not a nice outlook to have in your early twenties especially when I was setting up my own obstacles. Life is meant to be fun.

This year however, I decided to turn things around and be more like the carefree and excitable person I used to be. As a beloved family member used to say “Have a dig!” So now I am having a dig. I have changed my thought patterns from negative to positive, particularly through affirmations. Just giving myself a pep-talk makes me feel like Wonder Woman! I am constantly surprised at my brimming energy levels after not constantly pushing myself down with negative phrases and thoughts (a run in the morning also helps!)

Ok, so I don’t want this to just be a post sounding like I’m some cheerleader shouting about positivity and happiness (ra ra ra!). But after marvelling at my own changes in self-confidence, I just had to write about it.

Sometimes you might feel like problems that began small are now looming like ominous mountains. I felt that when I was becoming overwhelmed and I gave in to it- my energy levels plummetted with my confidence in myself. But don’t give in to it. Tell yourself, “Ok, this is hard but I am strong and confident in my own abilities. I can do this!” It doesn’t matter if you feel silly- tell yourself in the mirror. Make yourself believe and know that you are an amazing individual that can achieve all that you set your mind to.

Life is meant to be fun. If you want it to be, then make it fun with your own positivity and strength. Do what you love and take moments to breathe and enjoy the sunlight on your skin (yes, I’m the cliché Queen today). When you go for a run, sing to your ipod and not just under your breath. Dance around your backyard like there’s no tomorrow or wrestle with your dog and play fetch. Anything that makes you smile from ear to ear and leaves you winded in fits of laughter is worth the effort. And, if you feel like a complete idiot doing whatever you like to do- even better. It’s more fun that way.

Ok, so I feel lame for spilling my emotions and thoughts onto my keyboard like a gooey mess. But I had to write. If it helps even one person to reevaluate their thoughts and to believe in themselves then I’m really grateful.

Back to study for me- this has been a good break and I’m even more amped to get back into it. Enjoy the day!

This is Cheerleader Sarah over and out.

 

Dance ’round the house like you’re on fire!

Tags

, , ,

Well, it has been a while. I’m going to have to keep it short but I just wanted to post something, ANYTHING so my words can come out and not keep stagnating.  I always tell myself I must write more. So here I am.

I am scrabbling about furiously to get my assignments done as well as study for an exam and complete a short writing project for next semesters work experience. Books, words, paper, pens and a mixture of words in English and Japanese are all I can see when I close my eyes. This is my life at the moment. But….the silver lining….

I’m going overseas for my mid-year holiday break! 😀

It is my first time leaving Australia so naturally I’m overly excited and talking the ear off of anyone who will listen (thus the post). Not only do I get to go on a sweet holiday but my best friend who is overseas is meeting me over there. I have been absolutely beaming, smiling excitedly at strangers in town, dancing around the house like crazy, singing to the cat- you name the embarrassing spontaneous activities-and I am doing them. Ok, well I do most of those things normally anyway…

So far we will definitely be in Japan for about 10 days-ish and then from there we are going to Europe, probably Germany, Italy, France and maybe Amsterdam. I already have my Japanese guidebooks because, no doubt once being overwhelmed by the amazing sights, my language abilities will vanish (I get nervous trying to speak to native-speakers and recall grammar, polite phrases etc). But just to be there, experience the culture, eat the food and hear the language first-hand will be amazing. And the Studio Ghibli Museum!! Ok, I have to stop because I could go on all day. I really need to get back into studying but I just had to write this down and excite myself further! Oh, happy days!

My Japanese guidebooks and my cat bus (from My Neighbour Totoro) pencil case from Japan

My Japanese guidebooks and my cat bus (from My Neighbour Totoro) pencil case from Japan

Oh and before I forget, when I woke up this morning because it was too early and cold for Delilah (she gets more sleepy in winter) she wouldn’t get up. I left her in bed to go for a run but not before taking a pic of her under the quilt. She has been sleeping under the blanket at night and the only tell-tale sign is a lump in the bed and her snoring. It kind of sounds like a cat sighing- if you can imagine the sound.

A sleepy, kangaroo-footed (seriously her feet are massive) Delilah

A sleepy, kangaroo-footed (seriously her feet are massive) Delilah

One of those days

Tags

, ,

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong from the moment you rise in the morning? It is like you wake up with a sense of impending doom and think ‘If only I could go back to bed’ though you know that isn’t really an option since these days seem to lurk during the week.

It has been one of those days and it all started with being woken up too early by an extremely perky, black cat. Since someone had slept too much during the day and gone to bed early the previous night (like a sausage, no less- see the pic), she was quite happy to walk across my head in the early hours. Being a light sleeper, I knew it was time to get up or face Delilah’s wrath in the form of crinkling plastic bags, rattling blinds and shredded cardboard (my usual wake up call).

After Her Majesty was fed, I proceeded to tip milk into my coffee which splashed onto the counter as I heard my porridge explode in the microwave. I smiled to myself and ignored the gnawing feeling that this was going to be a looong day. After getting ready for the day, I went up to uni with my flatmates and attempted some more of my Japanese assignment in the library before my career information meeting.

I had been looking forward to this meeting for a while because I have been thoroughly enjoying the other workshops I attended on resume writing, applications, cover letter, etc. It was great and very informative, but as I heard more and more about what was to be expected at an assessment centre, I started to get cold feet…

“I have to do problem solving activities in a group?”

“What if I am bad at it and nobody likes me?”

“What the?! A maths test- I hate maths!

And so the conga-line of negativity went on in my head for quite a while as I praticed breathing normally and looking like a sane person. Though I know we are in the same boat- I keep getting told by my friends that ALL students become unsure and nervous about their future- I can’t help but feel maybe some students are in shiney speedboats while I have an old rowboat (and not the cool kind that move by themselves like in Harry Potter). So for the remainder of the meeting I swallow my feelings of inadequacey and focus on absorbing as much information as I can, so that I can do my very best in future interviews.

After leaving the meeting and making my way to wait for my flatmates, my thoughts were a jumble of interviews tips and negative phrases, bred from my fear of the future. My future. I forced myself to smile again and thought at least I could go home with all this information to sit down and methodically sift through while I decided what I want to do. Things will work out- they have to! I stood for quite a while, trying to sort out my foggy thoughts. Then my phone chirped.

Sorry, forgot about you and went into town to have lunch! Coming back to get you now.

Aha! The day gets better. So I waited some more- further along the path I might add, since the grass was being clipped and a rock had already soared across and smashed into my leg. On the ride home I fumed silently and believed that the day was getting worse and being a big bully. (Stupid day!) “I never should have woken up or even left the house”. But when I arrived home, Delilah was waiting to greet me on my bed looking too adorable for words. She stretched her little white-tipped paw out and half yawned- half meowed in a “hey, chill out” kind of way.

So, I stopped worrying and did just that. I made a tea, sat at my computer and chilled out. The day still isn’t over (it’s only late afternoon) so I have decided to welcome the rest of the day, or night, rather than hiding under the covers. Bring it on, day! I’ll be more prepared tomorrow, day. Wanna spill my coffee again, day? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Yes. I am talking to an inanimate thing. Perhaps I should be going to bed…

Delilah, the sausage.

New writing project

Tags

, ,

I have had a small creative writing project in mind for a little while and though it isn’t yet fully formed, I thought I would start it now on my blog. It seems to me, suited for a teenage/young adult age group and hopefully it should be good for some writing practice which I am in desperate need of. I will make posts, chapter by chapter as I come up with content because I only have a rough outline of what I want to achieve from this project.

The project is called ‘Yours always’ and this is a short blurb, or ‘teaser’:

Have you ever felt pain because you dared to love? How about the soul-shattering kind that makes you sick to your stomach, day after day? I have because he’s gone. I believed it would never end. The pain, that is. I felt like I was sinking and I didn’t care if I never emerged again.

Look- I know I am not instilling your confidence with all the negativity but I do have a point. It gets easier- eventually. Just take things one day at a time and I promise you will get through this. It is ok to be scared and you don’t have to believe me. But let me tell you my story.

Narrative techniques and The Second Stage Turbine Blade

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Well, I mentioned in my last post that I was going to start adding some academic essays I have written. I feel like you put so much effort into writing these essays to just have them read, marked and then tossed (I mean, filed….) in the back of the cupboard with the rest of your old assignments. This one in particular I really enjoyed working on, as it was a research paper where the student chose their own topic and then completed it through independent study. In the paper I focus on two different media which tell the same story (a concept album and a comic book) and through these I discuss the narrative techniques used.

Hopefully some of you find it interesting since it was so much fun to research and write. Also, I obviously was working within  specific word limits so for anyone who knows and loves Coheed and Cambria and their albums- this barely scratches the surface and it is my own opinions on what I think certain scenes and techniques mean.

——————————————————————————————–

 A collaboration of music and comics to tell the story of The Second Stage Turbine Blade: An analysis of narrative techniques.

Research question:

How do the two different media, Coheed and Cambria’s The Second Stage Turbine Blade album and Claudio Sanchez’s comic of the same name work both independently and collaboratively to tell a story?

Abstract:

There are several, different narrative techniques used in order to tell a fictional story effectively and these techniques can vary depending on what medium is used to communicate the story. This research report explores narrative techniques through the analysis of two different media; a musical concept album and a comic book, both of which tell the story of The Second Stage Turbine Blade. It focuses on these works independently and collaboratively, in order to ascertain the different ways stories can be told. It will also discover through analysis, which of the media is more suitable to portray a story independently.

A fictional story can be present in various media forms through the effective use of narrative techniques. However, music and graphic novels are sometimes overlooked or portrayed as superficial storytelling forms, due to being heavily image and audio based. The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms defines narrative as “a telling of some true or fictitious event…recounted by a narrator to a narratee” (Baldick 2008). This definition embodies a wide selection of media as containing narrative, including some lyrical music and graphic novels because these media are still creating narrative, just through different means. Claudio Sanchez’s epic, science-fiction saga, The Amory Wars, is produced as both a comic book series and several music albums which collaborate to tell the overall story. This research article will focus on the second instalment of this comic book series and concept album, by analysing the techniques used to portray The Second Stage Turbine Blade story both independently and collaboratively. As a way of giving the analyses context, the storyline is about the lives of protagonists, Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon and their four children. It is set in an alternate universe called Heavens Fence: a colony of seventy-eight planets, joined by a beam of light called the Keywork and ruled by antagonist, Wilhelm Ryan. The plot follows Wilhelm’s desire to end the Kilgannon family due to the Monstar virus (present in Coheed and Cambria’s blood), which if unleashed knowingly, could be the end to his tyranny (Sanchez 2010 p. 5).

Some lyrical songs can be considered a storytelling medium through effective use of vocal and instrumental narrative techniques. However, there is not much information on narrative form within lyrical music because it generally tends to be overlooked by music researchers. Middleton (1990 p. 103) suggests that most musicologists do not analyse popular music because ‘they find it lacking’ and so, their focus is usually on purely instrumental music. Despite this, it would seem that music can produce narrative more effectively through the added use of spoken text. Though still relying on the audience’s imagination, using lyrics would create a more structured narrative. However, not all researchers believe that lyrics can communicate to an audience. In Rock: The Primary Text, Moore (1993 p. 160) briefly touches on song meanings by affirming that lyrics are important because they enable the audience to interpret a singers ideas, however he still suggests that the role of lyrics in communicating a message from performer to listener is questionable. In contrast, Nicholls (2008 pp. 300-301) asserts in his thesis that songs undoubtedly contain narrative and can be analysed for their narrative discourse by a scale system from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most complex form of narrative through song. He also suggests that these more complex songs use multiple media such as ‘lyrics, music, prose, and art work’ (p. 301). This proves that a vast range of media can communicate a narrative to the audience and that lyrics are a useful tool for analysing narrative form within music. Some other examples of narrative techniques are: the types of instruments and how they are used to create suspense or emotion and also, how the singer uses their voice to express emotion within the storyline. All of these aspects have been considered in order to analyse the concept album’s narrative form.

The Second Stage Turbine Blade album uses a balance of visual imagery and character dialogue within lyrics, instrument use and the singer’s voice to create and add depth to the storyline. Neal (2007 p. 41) asserts that these ‘structural elements’ determine how the audience connects with the narrative themes and interprets the music. Firstly, a song that uses character dialogue, ‘Time Consumer’ (2002) is about Coheed Kilgannon, being tricked into killing his two youngest children by poisoning them, in order to prevent the Sinstar virus (a second strain of the Monstar virus) from destroying the world. Chatman (1978 p. 101) believes that verbal narratives can use character dialogue to illustrate movement through the storyline. This is evident in the chorus which contains the line ‘me and my star, Matthew good night’ which is dialogue from Coheed saying goodbye to his children for the last time (2002). Another four lines in the song are dialogue by Deftinwolf (Wilhelm’s subordinate) convincing Coheed what must be done:

“Wait, now, here when will you believe me?

Me, I’m merely asking you to help me.

When did I say to murder?

Wait, now, here. Please hear me out” (2002).

These are just two examples of dialogue from one song that illustrates what is happening at a certain point in the storyline. Next, there is visual imagery provided by the lyrics in several songs, but most notably in ‘Neverender’ and ‘Everything Evil’ (2002). For instance, the lines ‘…when the day begins to break, like the tears that run across your cheek’ describe through simile, Claudio’s emotions as he flees from the planet and his old life. Another illustration of visual imagery is the more gruesome scene where detectives discover the murder of eldest daughter, Josephine, at the home of the Kilgannons:

“Blood hungry, cannibalistic unfit family ties,

in a series of knocks,

to the young girl’s head side” (2002).

In both of these instances and other lyrics on the album, the narrator is not limited to being one character and is able to describe all of the stories events. Chatman (1978 p. 103) explains that some verbal narratives use an omnipresent narrator with capacity to report from all angles of a story. So, this technique aids the audiences understanding of the narrative. The way that Sanchez utilises his singing voice, along with the instruments, adds another layer to the narrative. Depicting this is a section in ‘Devil in Jersey City’ (Coheed and Cambria 2002) where Josephine is attacked by members of a gang. The sequence of lyrics that relate to the gang members are sung in a loud manner with fast electric guitar music, and then the song alternates to one line where Sanchez sings in almost a whisper, ‘don’t let them scare you’ (2002). Sanchez’s voice with the instruments makes the narrative more dramatic because it contrasts between the emotions shown by the angry gang members to a fearful Josephine and her attempt to calm herself. Another example that sets the scene is from the beginning of the ‘Delirium Trigger’ which is set on a space ship that is about to crash (2002). It is an instrumental section where the guitar is synthesised to sound distant and the notes seem disconnected, which symbolises a space environment. A moment later, Sanchez emits a high-pitch scream which becomes static against the microphone, sounding like the ships intercom. The lyrics that follow contain dialogue by the ship captain, sending a signal over the intercom. The use of the instruments, Sanchez’s voice and the lyrics collaboratively set the scene for the listener. Thus, the combination of instruments, the singer’s voice, character dialogue and visual imagery in the lyrics, creates a narrative within a concept album.

Comic books are a popular storytelling form, but they are sometimes viewed as superficial in terms of narrative content. Spiegelman, a comic creator, has stated ‘comics fly below the critical radar’ (Williams 2008). This may be because comic books primarily contain images rather than the traditional novel, which uses text and little to no image content. As stated by Round (2007), ‘to create a comic is not a way of telling a story with illustrations replicating the world it is set in, but a creation of that fantastic world from scratch’. This distinguishes further, that comic books are creating narrative through text, but especially image. Chute and DeKoven (2006) suggest that graphic novels need not be grouped with traditional fiction because the text is primarily handwritten and ‘its spatializing of narrative is part of a hybrid project’. This is evident with graphic narrative techniques such as: colour/lines- signifying emotion or action, image placement, literary devices and image and text collaboration to progress the story. These elements have been used to analyse the comic book series for examples of narrative form. Firstly, The Second Stage Turbine Blade comic books mainly use a third person register, along with character dialogue and text techniques, to further the narrative. An example is from a scene where Claudio leaves a handwritten note for his girlfriend, Newo Ikkin. The note’s contents are spread over several panels, alongside images of Newo waiting for Claudio (Sanchez 2010). The way the text is used and arranged on the page also adds to the action within a scene. In several instances, onomatopoeia is used to describe sounds happening during action. One example in particular is of a wall being smashed- where the supporting text ‘BOOM’ is bright orange and drawn to look jagged and dislocated (2010). Also, the way that panels are illustrated and where the images are placed creates action in the narrative. Illustrating this is the below image (Guzman & Smith 2010):

In this image there are lines used to indicate the movement of the monster breaking through the wall. Newo is placed in the corner in what looks like a stationary position but the indicated action suggests she is actually being forced backwards by the blast. This creates narrative by ‘invok…(ing)…tension between seeing and hearing’ (Round 2007). Several of the action scenes are detailed in a similar way- with use of lines and vivid colours. In other scenes that indicate emotion within the narrative, the colours change to reflect this. First, is a sequence of panels that represent Josephine remembering being beaten by the gang members. The panels are primarily in shades of red to symbolise her fear, and the anger and abuse that she remembers (2010). Secondly, the comic book’s final scene shows Claudio on the planet, Shylos Ten, being the only surviving member of his family. These panels use subdued colours such as black, grey and brown and an image of rain running down Claudio’s face to convey his sadness and helplessness (2010). Thus, the use of image and text in comic books enables a range of narrative techniques.

When the analyses of the concept album and comic books are viewed collaboratively they produce a more fully formed story. This is especially true of the music because with the aid of the comic books, the album makes more sense for the audience. First of all, the album cover art has a dragonfly on it which relates to the overall theme of the story. This is because dragonflies are used by Wilhelm Ryan’s subordinate in the comic book to release Coheed and Cambria’s Monstar virus, so he can use their powers to destroy the world (Sanchez 2010 ch. 3). Barthes & Duisit (1975) say that interpreting narrative requires following the storyline and recognising it as being segmented. Nicholls (p.308) agrees by mentioning that music analysed to contain level 5 narrative theory uses linked song titles to create the order of a narrative. Each of the song titles in the concept album chronologically represents a different part of the storyline and this is evident by comparing them to stages in the comic book. For example, the song, ‘Delirium Trigger’ (Coheed and Cambria 2002) has lyrics indicating when the Monstar virus is induced in Coheed due to being tricked into murdering his children, and this happens in the second chapter of the first comic book (Sanchez 2010). Exact quotes of dialogue from the comic book are also used as lyrics in parts of the concept album which combines these two media. For example, there is a scene where Mariah is killed by Wilhelm’s subordinate and her head is given to Wilhelm as proof (2010). The dialogue by Wilhelm in this scene, ‘the world’s not big enough for the both of us’, is used in the chorus of ‘God Send Conspirator’, with added lyrics that add to the emotion within the scene (Coheed and Cambria 2002). The concept album also collaborates to provide an audio aspect to certain scenes in the comic books. There is a sequence in the comic book where Claudio speaks to his dying sister, Josephine. Her lasts words to him are, ‘Claud-i-o…my dear Claud- i-o’ (Sanchez 2010). This is utilised in the concept album as a chorus line- Sanchez sings the line several times with the broken syllables as they are used by Josephine in the comic book (2002). These examples only show a small selection of the collaborative possibilities provided by the concept album and comic books. However, it proves that narrative can be effectively conveyed through more than one media, at the same time.

When most people hear the term ‘narrative’ they think of stories, and namely traditional media. But there are so many media today that can develop narrative through effective use of techniques, that we need to leave our minds open to all interpretations of the word. By doing this, there will be more opportunity for creative developments in the future of storytelling. A narrative can be produced in any media form if techniques are used effectively within the medium. This was illustrated by the analysis of The Second Stage Turbine Blade concept album and comic book series which can be studied separately or collaboratively. First, the comic books use image and text techniques, literary devices, character dialogue and colours to create narrative and it does it exceptionally well. On its own, the comic book series tells a complete story which is easily interpreted. Secondly, the concept album uses character dialogue and visual images through lyrics, the singer’s voice and instrument use to convey a narrative that is unique and interesting. However, separately the music album is difficult to interpret as it is more open to audience imagination. This is not a problem when the two projects are used collaboratively because the story has added depth when there are two media.

References:

Primary

Coheed and Cambria 2002, The second stage turbine blade, CD, Equal Vision, New Jersey.

Guzman, G & Smith, J D 2010, The amory wars: the second stage turbine blade (ultimate edition), image, Evil Ink Comics, Los Angeles, CA.

Sanchez, C 2010, The amory wars: the second stage turbine blade (ultimate edition), Evil Ink Comics, Los Angeles, CA.

Secondary

Baldick, C 2008, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, viewed 24 June 2011, http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t56.e760

Barthes, R & Duisit, L 1975, ‘An introduction to the structural analysis of narrative’, New Literary History, vol. 6, no. 2., viewed 24 June 2011, http://www.jstor.org/stable/468419

Chatman, S 1978, Story and discourse: narrative structure in fiction and film, Cornell University Press, London.

Chute, H & DeKoven, M 2006, ‘Introduction: graphic narrative’, Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 52, no. 4., viewed 17 April, 2011, http://www.scholar.google.com.au

Middleton, R 1990, Studying popular music, Open University Press, Buckingham & Bristol, PA.

Moore, A F 1993, Rock: the primary text, Open University Press, Buckingham & Bristol, PA.

Neal, J R 2007, ‘Narrative paradigms, musical signifiers and form as function in country music’, Music Theory Spectrum, vol. 29, no. 1., viewed 23 June 2011, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mts.2007.29.1.41

Nicholls, D 2007, ‘Narrative theory as an analytical tool in the study of popular music texts’, Music & Letters, vol. 88, no. 2., viewed 13 April 2011.

Round, J 2007, ‘Visual perspective and narrative voice in comics: redefining literary terminology’, International Journal of Comic Art, vol. 9, no. 2., viewed 18 April 2011, http://www.scholar.google.com.au

Williams, R M 2008, ‘Image, text, and story: comics and graphic novels in the classroom’, Art Education, vol. 61, no. 6., viewed 20 June 2011, http://www.proquest.org