Since U Been Gone live vocal cover version

When I’m not writing, I love to sing. I rarely do this in front of people, but a little over two weeks ago, I took on Kelly Clarkson’s song “Since U Been Gone”… in front of actual people. I was beyond nervous, but managed to get through it.

Here’s the video. I know where I went wrong, so try to be gentle. 😉

Thanks to Gareth at VocalTech for the guidance, endless patience, and encouragement. 🙂

10,000 review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed 10,000 — presented by by the Perth Theatre Trust and Umbrella Works Inc. as part of the Subiaco Theatre Festival — for Perth Walkabout:

In 10,000, we are introduced to Edie and AJ through the characters they are playing in a video game. The game, which AJ bought when he and Edie first got together, acts as a metaphor for their troubled relationship. 10 years on, they are married with a three-year-old daughter, but Edie has recently moved out. A keen gamer, AJ hopes to repair their marriage by sharing one of his passions with his sceptical wife. But before long, the lines between reality and the game’s science fiction adventure world become blurred, and Edie and AJ find themselves fighting for their very survival.

Read the full review on Perth Walkabout.

Enoch Arden review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed Enoch Arden, performed by John Bell and Simon Tedeschi, for Perth Walkabout:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed into His Majesty’s Theatre on June 14 for Perth Theatre Trust’s one-night-only presentation of Enoch Arden. The night began with acclaimed classical pianist Simon Tedeschi introducing the show, setting the mood by performing two pieces by Schubert and Brahms, before award-winning actor and Bell Shakespeare founder John Bell entered the stage.

Read the full review on Perth Walkabout.

The Lighthouse Girl review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of The Lighthouse Girl for Perth Walkabout:

As I waited for the Perth premiere of The Lighthouse Girl to begin, I felt like I was on a boat drifting towards an island, with the sound of waves crashing around the intimate theatre, the rocky landscape on the stage in front of me, and even the way my chair shook as the audience walked down the steps to find their seats.

Adapted by Hellie Turner from Dianne Wolfer’s award-winning books, The Lighthouse Girl and The Light Horse Boy, the play is set during the outbreak of World War I. Fay lives an isolated existence on Breaksea Island, south-east of Albany, with her father and old Joe. Fay’s father is Breaksea’s lighthouse keeper; her mother died several months earlier, and her only other companions are her donkey and her diary. Meanwhile, in country Victoria, best friends Charlie and Jim lie about their age to enlist as soldiers, anticipating a great overseas adventure together.

Read the full review at Perth Walkabout.

Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why

Clay gets Hannah's tapes

Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why.

I mean, there’s a good chance you already are. It became one of Netflix’s most popular original series shortly after its debut on March 31, but soon also became its most polarising. Supporters of the show say it starts important conversations about difficult topics including suicide and bullying. Those against the show say it does this in a dangerous and/or inaccurate way.

Spoilers ahead.

What is 13 Reasons Why?

Clay gets Hannah's tapes
Clay gets Hannah’s tapes. (Anonymous Content/Paramount Television/Netflix).
The basic premise of 13 Reasons Why is this: Hannah Baker has taken her own life, but before she did, she recorded 13 tapes detailing the 13 reasons why she killed herself. Each of these tapes is addressed to a person at her school. Hannah intended for the tapes to be passed along, in order, to each of these people. As we watch the series, the tapes are in the hands of fellow student Clay Jensen.

The show is based on Jay Asher’s debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why, which was released in 2007 and already had a cult following. However, the series differs from the book in a number of ways, including the characters’ back stories and the method by which Hannah ends her life. (It’s far more graphic in the series.)

Is 13 Reasons Why dangerous?

Many experts, including Australian youth mental health organisation headspace, have issued warnings about 13 Reasons Why amid reports that counselling services have received a spate of calls directly related to the show.

Here are some of the arguments as to why the show is potentially harmful:

  • It graphically depicts suicide and rape, possibly leading to suicide contagion.
  • It romanticises suicide and presents the idea of suicide as a revenge tactic.
  • It places the blame for Hannah’s suicide on others, and does not specifically address Hannah’s mental health.
  • It discourages viewers from seeking help; the only time Hannah reaches out to someone is when she goes to the school counsellor, Mr Porter, who is unable to do anything because she sets him up to fail.
  • It does not tell viewers where they can get help if they are triggered by its content.

Kati Morton, a therapist and YouTuber, details her concerns about 13 Reasons Why in this video:

My personal thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

I liked 13 Reasons Why for the most part, but one of my friends felt it was a horrific representation. Both of us have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts. The first time I wanted to die was when I was about Hannah’s age, but as my friend and I demonstrate, I cannot claim to be able to speak for anyone else who has gone through it.

I’m wary of the fans who are borderline evangelical about the show and think everyone needs to watch it. Even though I was hooked on the series, it did bring up some unpleasant memories for me. At one point I was curled up on my bed and needed a good cry and some sleep before I could watch the rest. But teenage me also felt understood, and adult me found that comforting.

I didn’t feel like it romanticised suicide — seeing the brutal way in which Hannah ends her life and how it impacted on her parents did the opposite for me, which I believe was one of the reasons why the show changed the way she died. I also didn’t think Hannah killed herself just to get back at everyone; rather, she felt hopeless, like she couldn’t do anything right and had not one friend left in the world. And frankly, I could relate to her.

Maybe it’s over-simplistic to say that what the subjects of Hannah’s tapes did or didn’t do caused her to come to the conclusion that she had to die. Just like it’s over-simplistic to say that X, Y and Z made me suicidal. But there were things that happened to me, that piled up until life became overwhelming and seemingly unbearable. And like Hannah, I felt completely alone. So while saying “these people killed Hannah” might be an oversimplification, to suggest that external influences played no part in how she felt (and how I felt) is also inaccurate. We could all treat each other a little better because you don’t know what someone is going through. Yes, Hannah made her own choice to kill herself, and if I’d done the same it would’ve been my choice, not anyone else’s. But bullies and rapists make a choice too, and sometimes their choices have consequences like what we see in this series.

Things turned out okay for me. I eventually got a diagnosis, some therapy and a prescription. Hannah never did. Maybe she would have if she’d talked to her parents or a professional, but we’ll never know. I do think avenues for help could have been made more obvious within the show, in the same way that news stories in Australia include numbers for relevant organisations, such as Lifeline. Perhaps they could’ve inserted a news ticker at the bottom of the screen, for instance. The 13reasonswhy.info website provides crisis lines for different countries, but you kind of have to go looking for it.

I believe 13 Reasons Why does have value, but there’s no such thing as a show for everyone, and some people are safer avoiding it.

Have you seen 13 Reasons Why? What do you think of it?

UPDATE: Netflix has since announced that they’ll be adding extra trigger warnings and have “strengthened the messaging and resource language” for the most graphic episodes.

Aiden’s Flowers in Flash Fiction Magazine

Flash Fiction Magazine - issue 1 cover

I have news! My story “Aiden’s Flowers” appears in issue 1 of Flash Fiction Magazine, which is out now. It features 50 bite-sized stories from 50 authors around the world, and you can get it from Amazon.

This what you can expect (from the product description):

Stories that won’t waste your time.

This enthralling anthology of flash fiction features very short stories ranging from a paragraph to one or two pages. Flash Fiction Magazine has compiled a sterling collection of exceptional contemporary examples of this unique fictional form covering a wide range of ideas and genres, from literary to romantic to humorous to horrifying.

Exploring the last moments before a death, the heartache of unrequited love, the sweet high of revenge, or the sad truth about human obsolescence, these brief tales touch briefly but profoundly on who we are, the ways we commit, the ways we move on, the ways we get by—sometimes shocking, sometimes funny, sometimes deeply emotional, and always remarkable.

“Aiden’s Flowers” is told from the point of view of a mother who’s lost her partner in tragic circumstances. Although I’ve never been a parent, I tried to imagine what it would be like in this situation.

Flash Fiction Magazine is available from Amazon, iBooks, and other e-retailers. Click here to get issue 1 of Flash Fiction Magazine from Amazon.

Feel free to give me feedback (on my story and the issue as a whole) and/or leave an honest customer review at the point of purchase. I’m sure it would mean a lot, not only to me, but to the other authors whose work appears in the magazine. 🙂

Jasper Jones review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed the Jasper Jones movie for Perth Walkabout:

The film adaptation of Jasper Jones had a lot to live up to. Craig Silvey’s award-winning novel is a much-loved modern classic that has been described as “an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird”. I went into the preview screening of the film with some apprehension about how it would stack up against the book, but in the end, I needn’t have worried.

Read the full review.

Help me 2017, you’re my only hope

fireworks

I had just woken up in my hotel room in Sydney when I heard the news that Carrie Fisher had died, four days after she stopped breathing on a flight from London to Los Angeles. While 2016 saw the passing of many iconic figures, this one probably hit me the hardest.

Like most of the world, I first saw Carrie as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

But the hilariously honest way in which Carrie wrote and talked about her battles with addiction and bipolar disorder made me admire her all the more. So I got her likeness tattooed on me in February 2015, and I’ll treasure that for the rest of my life.

If you spend half as much time online as I do, you’ll know that 2016 was widely dubbed the “worst year ever”, in part due to the deaths of so many beloved famous people. I was fortunate enough to see Prince live at Perth Arena early in the year — which would turn out to be just eight weeks before he died. No photos or recording devices were allowed, so I can’t show you anything from that concert, but by the time I left the building, he was in my top three live acts of all time.

On a more personal note, someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, but as I write this, they seem to be doing well. So I’m quietly hopeful that 2017 will bring good news for us.

fireworks
Fireworks for the New Year. Photo by Freerange Stock Archives.
While it’s easy to focus on the negatives, last year had its highlights too. I returned to full-time study with the goal of qualifying as a library technician. And after a few false starts, I began writing what I hope will be my second novel during NaNoWriMo. (I’ve had some rejections for my first novel, but I will keep trying to get it published.)

I also flexed my writing muscle for other websites:

Other highlights included:

  • Seeing 1927, my favourite Australian band, four times — bringing my total tally to 16.

    A photo posted by Lee-Ann Khoh (@leeannkhoh) on

  • Attending the midnight premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I don’t watch many movies, so actually going to the cinema is usually an event anyway.
  • The 50th anniversary of Star Trek and the release of what I consider to be the best of the “Kelvin Timeline” reboots, Star Trek Beyond.
  • Spending the holidays with my Sydney family, which includes my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

In 2017, I hope to keep writing and improving as a writer, as well as continuing my studies. While 2016 wasn’t entirely awful for me (despite the rather dramatic blog title), I know some people who had genuinely horrific years, and I hope for a better 365 days for them too.

Happy New Year.

10 thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film poster

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film poster
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster (LucasFilm Ltd.)
This morning, I attended a midnight premiere of Rogue One, the first movie in the “standalone” Star Wars Anthology Series. I’m not going to post a proper review because there have already been plenty of those, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to come. But like I did for The Force Awakens last year, I’ve decided to post 10 thoughts I had while watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (I’ve tried to keep it spoiler-free, but if you haven’t seen it and are concerned about potential spoilers, please look away now.)

  1. I attempted to pay homage to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia and Rey in one hairstyle… I don’t think anyone gets it.

    A photo posted by Lee-Ann Khoh (@leeannkhoh) on

  2. No yellow opening text crawl. 😮 That’s how you know it’s not an Episode.
  3. I remember watching Felicity Jones as Ethel Hallow on The Worst Witch when I was a kid. Now she’s the star of a freaking Star Wars movie. The circle is now complete.
  4. K-2SO is like a badass C-3PO. He deserves his own spin-off.
  5. Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus make a great pair.
  6. Slightly disappointed that Ben Mendelsohn didn’t play Krennic a little more “Australian”. I think a Wolf Creek-inspired Aussie accent is long overdue in the Star Wars universe. 😉
  7. They did a fantastic job bringing Tarkin back to life.
  8. I know it’s a space opera, but there’s something very realistic about this.
  9. Noooo Bail Organa, don’t go back to Alderaan!
  10. OH MY GOD. OH. MY. GOD. Even if the rest of the movie had sucked (which it didn’t), it would’ve been worth it just for that last scene.