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I finished Cloud Atlas (the novel) a few days ago, and I enjoyed it quite a bit! I then went back and did a little reading about the upcoming film adaptation, and man, there are some pretty serious red flags going up all over the place.

Here is the thing about the Cloud Atlas movie, in particular its casting. Moderate spoilers for the book within! )
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Now that I'm back to working on my comic full-time again, I've also returned to the only thing that keeps me sane while doing so: watching enormous piles of movies in the background. Not everything is particularly well-suited to this method of keeping-my-ass-at-the-desk -- the media I consume can't have subtitles, has to be relatively dialog-centric so I can follow it even when I'm only occasionally glancing at the screen, and has to be engaging enough that I don't pause it every thirty seconds to check my email.

In my desperation for entertainment, I end up watching a lot of films that I probably wouldn't have bothered with otherwise. Sometimes this leads to muddy mediocrity, and sometimes I discover a nugget of gold buried amongst the crap.

I'm going to try my hand at writing short reviews for the films that I have something to say about. Particularly when what I have to say is, "THAT WAS UNEXPECTEDLY AWESOME!"

The Associate
starring Whoopie Goldberg and Dianne Wiest
On Netflix

Kind of a mess at times, but I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT anyway. )

Mansfield Park
starring Frances O'Connor
on Netflix

This adaptation makes a lot of smart decisions. )
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I had a thought last night, regarding Mad Men and cigarettes. I don't particularly chase down essays on the show, so this may be a well-worn point of view, but it seemed worth taking a few minutes to sketch out my thoughts regardless. )
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So. Apparently a group of writers, programmers, artists and other nerds (including Neal Stephenson, which is why I've heard of this) decided to get together and deepen their knowledge of "Western Martial Arts." In their own words, "to engage in such activities as hitting each other with swords and trying to figure out how to protect ourselves when hitting each other with swords." Which I obviously have no problem with at all -- it seems like the writers in the group, in particular, wanted to improve their ability to describe convincing fight scenes, and I think it's awesome that they're taking their work so seriously.

Out of this group emerged a story, originally conceived of by Stephenson but elaborated on by the whole of their new community. The came to call it "The Mongoliad," and its basic concept is as such:

It’s spring of 1241, and the West is shitting its pants (that’s “bewraying its kecks” for you medieval time-travelers).

The Mongol takeover of Europe is almost complete. The hordes commanded by the sons of Genghis Khan have swept out of their immense grassy plains and ravaged Russia, Poland, and Hungary... and now seem poised to sweep west to Paris and south to Rome. King and pope and peasant alike face a bleak future—until a small band of warriors, inheritors of a millennium-old secret tradition, set out to probe the enemy.

Their leader, the greatest knight of their order, will set his small group of specially trained warriors on a perilous eastern journey. They will be guided by an agile, elusive, and sharp-witted adolescent girl, who believes the master’s plan is insane. But this small band is the West’s last, best hope to turn aside the floodtide of the violent genius of the Steppes kingdoms.


Now, I'll start by saying that I don't actually have a huge problem with the basic concept they're presenting. If adequately researched and tackled by an author with the "chops" to execute it, this could be a rich and interesting alternate history. It's a pretty classic case of "all in the details," where the particular skills, perspective and narrative priorities of the author would be the difference between "intriguing" and "train wreck."

There isn't a ton of material on the site, as of yet. But I've sifted through what's there. And I have to say -- it's starting to look like 'train wreck' to me. )
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I've been surprised by the degree to which Tumblr has carved out a distinctive internet niche for itself. Different users no doubt have very different experiences, but my dashboard is largely a never-ending parade of pretty pictures, collections of stills from beloved TV shows, quotes from awesome people and the occasional miniature essay. It seems to be an "all joy all the time" place for the most part, and I think that's fantastic. I love that it's been a haven of sort for several friends of mine, who appreciate having a virtual fountain of positivity and beauty in their internet routine.

But I've noticed something recently about the content that's been making the rounds. Not a bad thing, I would stress -- not something I'd ever ask my friends not to do. A large part of why I'm making this post is that I'm not entirely sure how I personally feel about it.

Briefly put: there are a great many photos of very thin, conventionally beautiful women on my Tumblr dashboard, often with very little in the way of clothing. And nearly all of them are posted by other women. And I have got to say, it's starting to wear me down a little. )

(And incidentally, WHILE I'M HERE, more pictures of lady factory workers from WW2 would be just fine. Also pilots.)
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Recently, John Rogers (the creator/showrunner for Leverage) was asked for his thoughts on fanfic, and actually took the time to articulate some pretty positive thoughts on the matter! I won't repost his entire response here (others have done so already, if you don't want to have to skim his post) but the one aspect of his outlook that irked me can be summed up with this quote: "Sure, a lot of fanfic is crap. Of course it's crap. It's written by people who are not professional writers."

I realize this is an INCREDIBLY minor point in the larger context of his not being an ass about fanwork. But it's a point that I'm particularly interested in for (probably obvious) reasons.

I'll admit: I was a little frustrated by the implication that fanfic is inherently inferior in quality because it isn't professional. )
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So I think I've figured out what's bothering me about Farscape. Now, this isn't to say I'm not enjoying anything about it, because I am -- I really like Aeryn and Zhaan, and Chiana is veeeeeeerrrrry slowly growing on me maybe -- but I've found it very difficult to watch and almost impossible to comfortably settle into. And I have a theory as to why.

As far as I can tell, it's a combination of three big things: Spoilers and grumbling behind the cut. )

ALL OF THAT SAID! There are some things that I enjoy quite a bit!  )

Annnnnnd that's all I've got for now. Off to finish the rest of the season I guess? *FORGES AHEAD*

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Go make some new disaster.

December 2015

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