Average at Best

I don’t do spoilers.

The Last Jedi suffers from the same disease most “big” movies are afflicted with lately – it takes forever to start and then it just ends. Not with a bang. With a whimper. A sad little whimper.

Rian Johnson was presented with good actors and good characters and he presented them with a script full of easily avoidable holes, unnecessary scenes and poor attempts at depth and meaning.

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Yes, there are good moments in this movie. Some of them are even great. However, put together they make an average movie – at best.

One thing did stand out, though. Kylo and Rey. The chemistry between those two was so intense and palpable that I felt we had no business intruding on them. It made me feel uncomfortable, like a stalker.

Daisy Ridley was good, really really good. I’d go as far as saying that she was glorious. Adam Driver was amazing when the script allowed him to be.

What I resent the most is that The Last Jedi failed to pay decent respect to Luke, Leia and Vader. It made me sad and angry.

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By the way, if you cannot say it in under two hours, you should go back to the drawing board. It’s not like you’re making The Godfather, for Christ’s sake.

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The Art of Welding

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot like a book. Sorry, Andy. I really loved The Martian, as can be seen here, but Artemis is nothing more than a disappointment. I really wanted to like it, not only because it is your second book, but also because it is the first book after a long time my reading mate and I took up together.

Artemis had everything going for it. I liked where the plot was going, I liked the characters (ok, Jazz was obnoxious at times, but not insufferable). Soon, plot, character and relationship development gave way to welding. Real important stuff, this. Yeah. You know you want to read 20 pages about welding. Fun stuff, that.

I’ll steal a bit from the Martian review I wrote in which I stole a bit from WSJ, quoting Mr Weir as saying:  “If you get down into the deep details, the science tells you the story,” he said.”  He spent “three years working out the details”. I’m sure he spent a lot of time researching the Moon and how life on Moon would look like, but he seemed to have forgotten about it due to serious welding obsession (except for Moon’s gravity). YES, I GET IT. IT’S ONE-SIXTH OF EARTH’S GRAVITY.

There are around 30 mentions of moon’s gravity in Artemis:

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“It’s only one-sixth Earth’s Gravity.”
“…remember the gravity here.” (like you’ll let me forget).
“Gravity”, I said. “Sex is totally different in one-sixth G.”
“Sure, they have six times the gravity to deal with.”

The word “weld” is used 62 times.

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“When you’re in a vacuum, getting rid of heat is a problem. There’s no air to carry it away.”
“When you weld aluminium, you need to flood it with a nonreactive gas to keep the surface from oxidizing. On Earth they use argon because it’s massively abundant. But we don’t have noble gases on the moon, so we have to ship them in from Earth.”
“The city requires all sorts of extra inspections if you weld to the inner hull.”
“Flint and steel won’t work in a vacuum.”
“A welding flame is just acetylene and oxygen on fire.”

For more on welding, read Artemis. If you need more on lunar gravity, you should find a hobby.

For me, the science worked in The Martian was because it was fun and relatable, it was useful for the story (which was rather simple – no cartels there). We cared about Mark and his survival, and science was keeping him alive. Science made The Martian feel more real, or at least more possible. What the fuck is the purpose of all the welding in Artemis? Why would an average reader want to know so much about welding?  

As I was nearing the end of Artemis, I became painfully aware of it having certain characteristics of a “first book in a series”. Primarily, because there were a lot of cool characters (pretty much everyone except for Jazz) who were neglected and could have contributed to the story – immensely. Shockingly, while reading Mr Weir’s Interview I found out that he wants to write a series of books about Artemis, one of which would include Rudy, the most underused and the coolest character in Artemis.

Stop writing installments. Start writing books.

For an actual review of the book (spoilers included) click here: Lacus Oblivionis.

Debasement of Language (and Thought)

There are two terms which have been omnipresent (ok, present) in the Croatian public sphere (used by politicians, activists and then by the media and the people) which have been concocted, I think, to serve interests of certain groups. I will not go into the merits of those interests, and I will not state these terms (which I have used more often than I care to admit).

I’m going to, however, put them into the B vocabulary of Newspeak which “consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”

This abuse of language and of the fact that people tend to take words as something that is given upsets me. I see these terms slowly worming their way into our everyday communication and it fucking scares me. Because fighting language is much more difficult then fighting people and because I don’t like comparing anything in my reality to 1984.

Orwell might have been writing about Newspeak, but it was just a way of saying that language can be manipulated“not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees (of Ingsoc), but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

The vague meaning (?) of these terms puts them into the B vocabulary because “some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to anyone who has not mastered the language as a whole” and let us just remember that “the special function of certain Newspeak words was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them.

I’ll keep on quoting Orwell, this time his essay Politics and the English Language, because we take on these new words and terms with “the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”.

To conclude, “to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration”and the scariest thing is that this “reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity”.

“This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one’s brain.”

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Everything at the same time 2

Stranger Things 2 made me realise I have never-ever before had the same opinion about two seasons of a same TV show. That’s all I have to write about Season 2, aside from what I wrote about Stranger Things more than a year ago.

How to watch Ragnarok without watching it

I wish I could write a post about how Ragnarok is a really great movie. I cannot. Because it is not. It is fun(ny), at times too funny. Misplaced humour all over the place. I’d have probably enjoyed the movie more if Kenneth hadn’t made the first movie and if Thor was treated as a comic relief character throughout the franchise(s).

Now, I could go on about how I had fun watching the movie (I did). I could even go into a discussion about who’s hotter: Loki, Thor of Heimdall. I could also elaborate on my opinion that the only person who came to the set to act (not to have fun) was Cate Blanchett. But I don’t have to because I just did. See what I did there?

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Instead of elaborating, I’ll give you a piece of advice. Look at the gifs below for two hours and ten minutes while listening to soundtrack of Stranger Things and it will be equivalent to the experience of watching Ragnarok, minus the cringing due to misplaced humour.

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And if you’re considering seeing the movie due to certain carnal inclinations see the gifs below.

 

There.

 

What’s wrong with Hannibal?

Aside from the obvious?

Not going into aestheticism, they pretty much screwed up everything they could have screwed up. Will Graham, the ultimate empath (insert race from Star Trek) is nothing more than an oversensitive, snivelling child who cannot seem to keep his eyes dry for two minutes. The guy who plays Graham in the show (I don’t care about his name) could not portray the transformation of the “real” Will Graham into a ruthless killer – shockingly, saying “This is my design” has not proven enough.

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The only thing which lead me through the whole first season was the fact that I was intrigued by the massive changes to the story. However, the changes they made to the title character were just too much.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is antisocial, weird and so obviously “not-all-there”, that I fail to understand how no one took note of it sooner. He lacks any emotion and fails to react properly in almost all situations, which pretty much screams “sociopath”. However, one of best psychiatrists recommends him to one of the best FBI investigators to help the best profiler. How quaint. And utterly idiotic.

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Hannibal is once again – ruined (remember this?). The greatest and biggest reason to fear Hannibal (the Original) is his normalcy and the fact that you like him and enjoy being in his company. It’s a pleasure to talk to him, even after you learn that he is in fact a monster, at times his intelligence makes you forget this. He is sociable, well-liked and highly-functional – only at times his misanthropy seeps through. In my opinion, you can mess with everything when using Thomas Harris’s books, but you cannot mess with the essence of Hannibal.

Now, the story. One episode per serial killer. Really? Come on? Hello – here’s a vicious, cruel serial killer who kills young women who all look alike. Oh, here’s a list of employees at a construction site. Oh look, here’s the serial killer. Yay. Sorry, but there’s no aestheticism that can mask this massive fail. One episode was simply not enough to portray a warped mind which instils fear and haunts Graham throughout the entire season. I mean, the guy you showed me is just a glorified butcher.

Hannibal is at best a 3/10 but I’m still going to watch season two. Because, I really want to know what happens next. But first I’m going to go back to one of my favourite books  and one of my favourite characters (not Hannibal, Will Graham).

Movie Moments – by Alice X. Zhang

Some of my favourite characters and movie moments captured by http://alicexz.deviantart.com with selected quotes.

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Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!

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I don’t give a shit about sleeping, Leon. I want love, or death. That’s it.

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Let me go home.

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I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.

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These days, there are angry ghosts all around us – dead from wars, sickness, starvation – and nobody cares. So you say you’re under a curse? So what? So’s the whole damn world.

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I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.

Must-see anime – Gin no Saji

You’ve seen one. You’ve seen them all.

That’s a claim that can easily be made about most anime belonging to the same genre. There are certain “rules” which authors adhere to. Sometimes they bend them, sometimes they flat out break them, but still the rules are there.

Gin no Saji follows Yuugo Hachiken, a boy tired of trying to live up to expectations he cannot meet. He decides to enrol in Ooezo Agricultural High School, a boarding school in the countryside, as a means to escape the stress brought upon by his parents and his lack of direction. For more adverbs and adjectives visit: myanimelist.net.

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What you might call “rules” of a slice of life anime are present in Gin no Saji. But it’s not the rules that really matter, do they? It’s the characters’ originality and plausibility, the setting in which those rules are being applied.

I’m a sucker for anime in which nothing really happens. And when I say nothing, I mean nobody saves the world, establishes new world order or reinstates the balance between the universes – basically your average slice-of-life is my cup of tea. And Gin no Saji is at the same time average and extraordinary, which is a combination I really enjoy because it is not easy to pull it off.

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Gin no Saji is about friendship, limitations and about having good fun while trying to become a better version of yourself – as much as life will let you. However, all of these usual topics are dealt with while our protagonist Yuugo and his motley crew learn how to make bacon and cheese, while taking care of pigs and cows and learning all there is about horses.

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Somehow, the agricultural setting manages to make all those usual slice-of-life tropes shine brighter and make you laugh and care even more. A must-see for anyone who enjoys slice-of-life. Really.

HOWEVER !!!

If you don’t like/eat meat I think it might be better for you to skip Gin no Saji.

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Also, if you do like/eat meat and have issues with where it actually comes from, you might find some parts of Gin no Saji not-so-nice.

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Damaged Women & Tattooed Men

This is a post about Brown Family, a “contemporary erotic romance series set in Seattle” written by Lauren Dane. For more details which do not include my opinion visit laurendane.com or goodreads.com.

I’ve read the first instalment of the Brown Family series years ago and I remember I enjoyed it, so when I felt the need to dip my brain into the Cheap Thrill pool, I thought of Lauren Dane.

Coming Undone (Brown Family 2) is nothing to write home about [but here I am, writing a post about it], but it’s a good enough way of spending an evening after a hard day at work. It’s a simple story about a young widow with a daughter who moves to a new city in search of a new life and gets down and dirty with a guy who doesn’t do relationships but does tattoos, family and friends. The widow has a dark past, because someone has to be damaged, I guess. I liked Brody and the [pause to look up name of main character] Elise because they both were almost lifelike.

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There’s a lot of sex in the book which kind of got old real fast. Frankly, even when I pick up a “contemporary erotic romance” I can do without 15 sex scenes, 20 pages per scene. But then again, it is an erotic romance, and I had the same beef with Laid Bare (Brown Family 1) so I really shouldn’t bitch about having to skip some pages.

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After Coming Undone, I’d logged onto Goodreads to see what’s next and imagine my surprise when I realize the two protagonists of Inside Out (Brown Family 3) are one Andrew Copeland [say what?] and Ella Tipton [maiden name Brown?]. I gave it a whirl but gave up because I couldn’t find the chemistry between the non-Brown characters and I couldn’t bring myself to care about Ella, her freckles, her boobs and her funny voice.

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Logging onto Goodreads, again, I discover a totally crazy summary for Never Enough (Brown Family 4) which made me gag.

Gillian Forrester spent her life running…until Miles came along. The moment she held her older sister’s unwanted newborn, Gillian stopped running and began building a life for her adopted son. Now, thirteen years later, Gillian’s sister reveals the father’s identity on her deathbed – a revelation that shakes Gillian to her core. Adrian Brown is the epitome of the successful rock star. It takes a lot to shock him – but the bombshell that he has a thirteen-year-old son rocks his world [PUUUUUUUN! Because he’s a ROCK star!]. And Adrian is even more surprised when the buttoned-up elegant woman who’s raising him ignites his erotic and romantic attention – and engages his heart.

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So that was a no. But I am an adamant creature, stubborn some would say, so I’ve decided to try and to read another Brown Family (and Friends) book – Drawn Together (Brown Family 5) which was doomed from the very start. I mean the main character is Raven who shows up in all the previous books as a crass, impolite woman whose juvenile actions are interpreted with words such as “honest” and “direct”.

So, another DNF.

I don’t understand what’s with Lauren Dane and wounded women and women in peril? Maybe the Brown Family series is the Wounded Female series? Maybe there’s more variation in her other series…Let’s check on Goodreads:

Giving Chase (Chase Brothers #1): …Despite Maggie’s happiness and growing love with Kyle, a dark shadow threatens everything-she’s got a stalker and he’s not happy at all. In the end, Maggie will need her wits, strength and the love of her man to get her out alive.

I think I’m done with Lauren Dane for now. However, aside from Coming Undone, she also gave me an excuse to put a Tom Hardy picture on my blog which is always a plus. So, thanks Lauren.

Meh

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Maddie is a popular, cheerleading, quarterback-dating girl with a dark secret. She likes comics, a lot. She hides her true, comic-loving self in fear of losing her popularity which she cultivated over the years. However, she is forced to slowly show her true face and accept who she really is with the help of the boy she’d been secretly pining after for years. Book includes comic book talk, LARPing, a guy called Logan and words such as adorkable.

I cannot seem to get a break. This time break was not given by The Summer I Became a Nerd. I was not expecting to be amazed at the magnificence of its literary merit, but I was expecting….  What in the world was I expecting when I picked this one up?

The Summer I Became a Nerd is something of a book, although not really. It’s more like a rough draft that could have been a book, a fun book at that. There’s just so much missing from it. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about making a list.

So I won’t.

The one important thing this book lacks is soul. Fact is, even the crappiest of books can have a soul. The Summer I Became a Nerd has these words, and stuff happens. Some stuff is cute, some mildly entertaining.

But in the end, it’s just meh. Read it. Don’t read it. In the end it’s really all the same.

Featured Image by gelopsychedelico.deviantart.com