Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1) Well well well. I loved this book all over again with this reread. :) Yet I see the beginnings of why after falling in love with so much of Jacqueline Carey's work, I fell out of love. :( She is a brilliant writer, such beautiful, beautiful prose. Kushiel's Dart especially has such a beautiful style. The teller of the tale, Phèdre, uses hindsight to add weight to events, to tragedies, to victories. So many things are told with such a quiet intensity of emotion.

But as I continued reading through the two Kushiel series my love of her books diminished. And I think there are two reasons. The first is that she is a better writer than storyteller. I've recently seen a good quote about writing that says story is more than just a series of events. And I think that's where Carey falls a little short. Every Phedre novel was just a series of events leading to a bigger, badder antagonist to defeat. Imriel's novels had even less than that. I found the first two almost boring to read. So much so that the third novel in the Imriel series sat on my bookshelf for years before I could bring myself to read it out of obligation. But I must say... that one, Kushiel's Mercy, was an excellent suprise! It had an exciting and more intricate plot! Much like Kushiel's Dart, but lacking in the 4 books between those two.

I think the second reason I fell out of love with Carey's books is setting. I LOVE the world of Terre d'Ange that she created! I'm intrigued by all the different Houses of the Night Court, I'm intrigued by all the different companions of Elua and their heritage found in their scions and provinces. And I realized how much I wanted to learn more about them. I feel there's so much to explore there! And yet out of 6 Kushiel books so little time is spent in Terre d'Ange! And while rereading this book I realize that only the first third of the book is in Terre d'Ange, and then we're off to Skaldia and Alba. And the next few books, we're off to more distant lands or Alba or Caerdicca Unitas. Sigh. I miss Terre d'Ange and wish for more books set there.

But I will always love Carey's books and some of the messages I will always treasure. These ones most of all: That which yields is not always weak. And Love as thou wilt.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

The moments I fell in love

I have fallen deeply in love over and over again. And each love stays with me for life, never lessening, even if the freshness of that love fades a little with time. It fades to a steady familiarity and comfort vs the burning passion and excitement of the initial discovery. I speak of music my friends. I have loved albums and will love again. The deep joy and comfort they bring me knows no bounds sometimes.

And I couldn't help but reflect recently on the exact moments I fell in love with each album. Those memories are seared in my mind. And what I find interesting is that for me, like human romantic love, true love of an album is never love at first sight. The moments I realized I was in love were always after several listens. But even though it wasn't a first listen, the moment I realized I was in love was still sudden and intense!

And I've now had an urge to write them down and share. Coz they are such wonderful memories!

The first one that comes to mind is how I discovered Depeche Mode, one of my favourite bands of all time. One I was obsessed with for years! It was 1990/91. I was in grade 8 and staying at my friend's cottage with her parents. As the young 'uns we got the garage which had been converted into a large bedroom with beds for both of us. All to ourselves! It was a rainy day and we were stuck inside. We used to hang out reading our books side by side or in this case reading and listening to our Walkmans side by side. And she had lent me her older brother's tape to check out. And what was it? Catching up with Depeche Mode! And coz it was a tape I started it on the side that was quicker to rewind. And do you know what side it was? Side B. So I first listened to that album starting with Fly on the Windscreen, followed by Blasphemous Rumours. I listened to it a couple of times through, loving all the songs, especially Fly on the Windscreen. But then during one listen, Blasphemous Rumours blindsided me. I was in love!!! Suddenly, inescapably, inexplicably in love with this song and this band!! I fell deep and hard. I copied all the tapes my friend's brother had, so I could devour them over and over again on my own. I loved. Soon after came my favourite album of theirs, Songs of Faith and Devotion, released in 1993. My first concert of theirs at Toronto's biggest stadium, Skydome, wowed me! Dave Gahan's energy and passion transmitted to all corners of this massive stadium. I was hooked! My obsession has faded in recent years but my love has not. :)

I must then tell you of another love. Dave Gahan's Hourglass album. It was 2007. As a devoted DM fan I'd bought it of course. And now I was high-tech and had a Discman to listen to the CD on! ;) I again have it on repeat (my favourite way to get to know a new album :) for my commute to work. I think it had already been a few days of listening to it, when this one morning I walked out of McCowan subway station and walked up the Telus building at Consilium Place where I worked. I was metres away from the building and looked up... actually saw the great glass building for once... just as the track Hidden Houses roared into my attention through my headphones. Bham! I was in love! Again! That song was rapturous!! It's haunting yet not, and oh so beautiful, and Dave's voice! I will never fall out of love with that voice!

Now I will backtrack a few years. It's 1999 and I'm visiting my friend who's working in a hostel in Scotland. I had just failed my 3rd year of university and had a semester off in the fall while I waited to repeat my spring courses. So naturally the only thing to do was go backpacking in Europe! :D I stayed with her in the apartment she had behind the hostel. Her roommate also had guests sometimes, and I remember this one girl because she was playing my next love on the CD player in the place. That love must've happened on the first listen coz I can't imagine other people putting albums on repeat as obsessively as I do sometimes! ;) I quickly asked her who that was and what album it was and scribbled it on some paper. It was an Irish singer named Luka Bloom and the album was Riverside. I didn't think too much about it, might've forgotten about it but synchronicity had it's hand to play next! Soon after Scotland I went over to Ireland, and while walking around Dublin stopped in a music store. And thought "Oh I'm in an Irish music store, maybe I should check if they have that album from that Irish singer." And they did! And I bought it! And it was awesome! And do you know what song I so deeply, deeply fell in love with? Dreams in America. I cannot turn up the volume enough to enjoy that song!!! There's this one part of the song where the music swells into the finale... oh lordy... it is simply amazing!

I want to now tell you of a more recent love. I don't look for new music to listen to anymore. I find my mp3 collection big enough to enjoy and find "new" songs to love. So now I only seem to discover random favourite songs through movies and TV. One day I was watching the movie called Little Death. A series of tales of sexual fetishes and exploits. And one story has my most beloved scene of all time. It ends with him sketching and drawing her face and as he does, this music starts to rise and play over the scene. You watch his look of love and concentration as he draws, her look of flattered love as she watches him doing so. The song is Light by the band Sleeping at Last. I quickly went and downloaded the album Atlas: Year One that it's on. And that... that album... man... words can't describe how obsessed I am with it!! It is so gently, softly, beautiful!!! With heart-wrenching lyrics. And it is 30 songs! 30 songs and every single one is amazing!! With Light still being my all-time favourite! I love it so much! That album I still have on repeat here and there and only recently am I saturating with it enough that I can slow down my obsessive listening. It is comforting and beautiful. And I love it so much I don't want to listen to any of their other albums. I'm not sure why. I think I worry that if their other albums suck or are too different it may dilute my love of this one? That nothing can top this one, and all else of theirs will pale in comparison?! I don't know. I just know I have 30 beautiful songs on repeat. :P

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana I've never read an author who so fully understands people and how complex our lives and feelings and behaviours can be.

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favourite authors, and Tigana my favourite of his books. I first read it in my 20s and was bowled over by it. I've now reread it in my 40s, one year after my beloved father died. To say Kay understands and captures all the grief, and pain, and fierce joy there is to be found in this life, is an understatement.

And to intersperse that understanding of humans with grand storytelling of the highest measure is a skill beyond belief. I am, and always will be, in awe of what he can craft.

'Less is more' is a skill in all forms of writing and one in which Kay excels at. And many fantasy authors lack in their sprawling, pointless (but fun :) epics. In Kay's books every scene is essential to the story, and you're always left with this excruciating feeling of inevitability of the ending that occurs.

There are so many moments in this book where I was crying from overwhelming joy or sadness. The characters are mature albeit sometimes broken humans. With so much wisdom, so much heart, so much pain. The story of Dianora will always be one of the most tragic of all time. And a reminder that us humans are complicated creatures, full of seeming contradictions that ultimately make sense. A sentence from the book comes to mind, "It was all true, but none of it was the truth."

That truth is now my life's mission. The truth in me, the truth in others, is what I seek. I have only recently realized how closed off from my emotions I am, we all are, but to quote the book I feel that "the stern bindings that wrapped and held [my] heart [are] loosening."And I think when we can access all the things hidden behind our internal walls, we will begin to know some peace and a more authentic life. This book has showed my why this journey is worth it, and how it might look along the way. :)

Sigh... Tigana is a book so full of life wisdom, so full of heart, yet it's all wrapped up in some of the most exciting storytelling I've ever read.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Black Sails (2017 TV show)

I think I would say I am quietly overwhelmed. And at peace. Often at the end of great shows I feel crazy and giddy and strung out, awed by the story and the ending. This one... this one is complete. So complete, the ending is a good thing and not a feeling of impending withdrawal. I guess because we, and the show creators, know this was all leading up to the story of Treasure Island. So there isn't such a feeling of finality. The story is not over... this is just the beginning. :)

But it is the end of a great show, with great characters, actors, cinematographers, composers, writers, directors etc!! Such a gorgeous show on so many levels! I'm gonna go backwards... the end when we have the top view of the plantation and we see Thomas just as a figure from above, and I gotta say... my heart leapt to my throat. There he was! I felt as if Flint must've felt. And I'm reminded of Flint's scene with Miranda, when she tells him he should not feel ashamed of his love for Thomas. And what a standard message we're trying so often to convey these days (with minimal success :/ ), and to have that be slapped away by Flint for something so vastly more important... the shame of not saving him. sigh.

Which brings me to other great scenes... after Miranda is killed and Vane saves Flint and they wreck such havoc and vengeful destruction on Charlestown. And you can't help but be right behind them and wishing the complete and utterly deserved annihilation of this place. And then the finale of season 3 when Vane indicates to Billy to let him be hung. Knowing how powerful his death would be, how critically helpful it would be to the cause. And I can't help but think of Vane's journey... from who he started out as, to that noble death... amazing.

And Jack in this last episode!! Priceless!! Hahahahaa!! When he and Featherstone are talking about how exciting it was to be at a turning point of history and then to be interrupted by news of the death of the one person who could get them there... and Jack just stands there looking at the dead body saying, "Ahuh." More standing, and another "Ahuh." ... Hahaha!! It killed me!

And then the relationship that developed between Flint and Silver. A more powerful bromance I have yet to see! All of the relationships in this show were so strong! They all meant so much to each other, often in such different and unusual ways. And Ned Low! What a scary bad guy! Amidst scary pirates! :P I feel they could've kept him around longer.

I'll say here what I say to anyone that lets me rave about the show to them. I think what absolutely made this show stand out from any show I've ever watched... the characters do such awful, violent things to others, even to each other, yet almost every single one is sympathetic. You can usually get behind them, could actually relate. Why? Because they all want things sooooo goddamn badly! Sooooo badly they will literally turn on each other! YET will also forgive, or at least overlook, past transgressions, again for this higher goal. And they are higher goals. Who would've thought I could see the nobility of Star Trek: TNG in a show about pirates! Star Trek had achieved a better world, and the characters in Black Sails are fighting for it! Tooth and nail, scrap by scrap, sacrifice by sacrifice. Mrs. Hudson's line to Eleanor struck me coz it described this show best, she tells her: every day you try to be better than the day before. So few shows today can say that of their characters. :( Not when you're inundated with post-apocalyptic premises just so you can justify characters behaving as disgustingly as possible. C'mon! A pirates show has outclassed you!

This show caught me in the first couple of episodes partly coz of setting. Who could get tired of looking at turquoise waters and white beaches!? ;) And then also who could get tired of looking at the smokin' hot male characters! ;) ;) And finally who could get tired of watching some actually "strong female characters" who weren't tropes!?! :D :D :D

And you know the men are hot when there's Twitter accounts like @TomHoppersArms and @ZachCheekbones!! Needless to say, I'm an avid follower of theirs! haha! ;)

And I can't say enough about the music. I'm in love with so much of what Bear McCreary does! My all time favourites are gonna be his soundtracks for: Black Sails (of course), Outlander and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. And in this last episode I especially noticed it was the existing themes, but quieter, slower, marking an ending. These last few episodes reminded me of the last season of The Office. Where you can tell everyone, actors, writers, etc know this is the end and is sad for it, but enjoying the last of it nonetheless.

Farewell Black Sails. I shall miss you.

(well at least til I can get my hands on a complete bluray collection???? ;)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Outlander (2014 TV show) + books vs. video?

What to say? What to say about a show that has overwhelmed me. Overwhelmed me with grand storytelling at its best. I've read great books, read this book. Loved it, lived it, felt it. But in this era of great television shows, great productions of unsurpassed quality in all facets, in this era, the show has actually surpassed the book! I didn't think I'd ever say that! It made me live and feel an experience greater than the book. I'm... hmm.. almost bewildered to realize that?! I'm hesitant to say that. Why? I think coz books have been the paragon of all entertainment for me. Nothing came close to rivaling that experience. Especially longer books... they sucked you into a world, a life, and you got to learn and feel it all!! You can get so fully immersed, it was the ultimate entertainment, the ultimate experience.

So I've read many, many great novels. Had so many, many great experiences. But what's always been so wonderful about books is that there are so many, and hence there are a lot that I love and enjoy sooo much!! As a lover of sci-fi/fantasy/historical genres I was ever grateful to how many great novels there were. But when it came to genre movies and TV shows... I gotta say... almost all were always so disappointing. :( I think partly coz movies were the only ones with enough budget to tackle genre stories and 1.5-3h is frankly never enough to tackle a 500-1000 page book! There is no way to do it anything resembling justice!! And although there is original content being made for movies, content that fits the scope, it's rare.

But now we have high production value TV shows. And they are beginning to rival the experience a book can give you. I once realized that one way a movie or show can be better than a book is the soundtrack! Music adds sooo much to the experience! And Bear McCreary is an amazing composer!! He has done sooo many great genre TV shows! I first noticed him on the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, loved it and since have loved his work on Black Sails and now Outlander!

So now after watching Outlander... I wonder if live action video is by nature a better experience than books? Up until this show I would never have said so, but I'm now realizing that was coz there were so many unequal aspects of the two media, length of time the viewer/reader spent was the biggest. The ability (and budget) to tell the scale of story found in books, especially genre ones. And those two aspects have only recently changed! TV shows, at 16 hours long for Outlander, can start to approach the time needed to give you a similar experience as the book. And TV shows now have higher production value so can tell those genre stories. And enough budget and commitment from producers to make sure the writing and acting is fantastic!

So with some of those things being equal, can you get more immersed in a good show vs. a good book? In this case, for me, yeah! The book was amazing but not the greatest I've read. So it was a great but not mind-blowing experience. This show was mind-blowingly awesome! It's funny... for me it's always been "that's a good story for a movie" or "that's a good story for a show". Having to give concessions for the medium, but always comparing it to books, and having movies and shows fall short. I think coz of length of time, movies will always fail to compare favorably to books. But like short stories, length doesn't stop movies from being great in their own right. (Just watched Sicario... that was beyond amazing!!!)

So I bid au revoir to Outlander and some of the most amazing 16h of my life spent! :) I loved watching Jamie and Claire. Jamie was so perfectly cast, Claire I had some reservations about (she's so much more waif-ish then I pictured) but grew to like her too. But one thing that was again different than the book... I really loved the other characters!! And I'm gonna miss them so much!! Coz although the they're making a 2nd season, we're leaving Scotland behind and all the awesomes like Dougal MacKenzie (damn he was cool!), and Rupert & Angus (what a hilarious pair!). And Tobias Menzies... man was he impressive!! I've seen him in other stuff (most recently Game of Thrones) and I would never have pictured him doing such a terrific portrayal of such an evil beast of a man like Jack Randall!

And I'm just so glad shows are now becoming a full 60 minutes and not edited for commercial breaks. I'm rewatching Buffy right now and realize how jarring commercial breaks are even when you watch the DVD and how they reduce the immersion you can experience! I started noticing that with Brit shows.. that 60 minutes felt like a feature film sometimes!

Ok enough for now! Outlander I will miss you. Hoping next season will be as good! Although it'll be missing one aspect I loved the most... gorgeous shots of the beauty of Scotland!! I enjoy the setting of some shows almost equal to the other aspects! Anyways. Farewell.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Chappie (2015 film) + what is scifi?

Oh my god. I am crying. I am giddy, emotionally elevated, crying, upset. And just coz I just finished watching Chappie. wtf?! I’m partly crying coz it was sad. So sad when “mommy” died and “daddy” was devastated, holding her in his arms, and crying tears of utter despair. But I’m also partly crying coz Chappie was a great scifi and yet got such bad reviews and word of mouth. But it explored the root of what scifi is! And did it well! Scifi asks “what if...” and then explores it, explores it so thoroughly that it’s real. That it is a true commentary on what life is, what life can be, what life should maybe be. I’m crying coz Ex Machina, also an A.I. based scifi, made me cry for different reasons. It made me cry in utter exhaustion at the misogyny in our world, and most especially in our entertainment. A movie that supposedly commented on sexism and objectification of women, but portrayed it so thoroughly, that whatever commentary there was got lost in the plain abuse of women, even if they were just “robots”. And I’m thinking long and hard here, what is so different about these two A.I. movies?!?! I think... TRUE scifi takes the “what if...” and explores it like I said. Chappie did that. Exploring it means... if A.I. existed, if police robots existed, but those things were placed in our world, it would change the way our world worked. This movie explored, the “what if” this A.I. was raised by a bunch of thugs. “What if” these thugs were just regular human beings trying to survive and make their lives make a little sense. So many other “what if’s” are in there too. What did Ex Machina do? Explore “what if” sentient robots were hot chicks we could abuse?! “What if” they acted just like human beings, with all the human machinations and revenge desires?! "What if" they stood around naked for lengthy periods of time?! Sentient A.I.’s are like children. They are our chance at redemption. The chance to see if could we turn out a little different with a different upbringing and different origin. Chappie showed us that. Ex Machina didn’t explore anything. It transposed standard human abuse and drama onto some robots.

OH!!! OH MY GOD!! MOTHERFUCKER!! I KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS!! Good scifi to me is defined as a story that is dependent on its speculative setting. Battlestar Galactica didn’t depend on its setting... replace cylons with another race or group of humans, and spaceships with seaships and you can have the exact same story. Star Trek: TNG on the other hand depended on its setting. That the universe is huge, varied, that sentience doesn’t only come in 2 legged format, that we interact with other races in a way that we currently do not. Battlestar is just a tranposing of our current human culture into space. It does not speculate whether humans would behave differently. Ex Machina is also NOT dependent on its setting of scifi. Minus the conversations about A.I. and our knowledge that she is a robot, the story is one we’ve seen a lot. The abuse of women by men who have power over them. Do we see the ending a lot? I don’t know. There are times when we’ve seen a story that has the abused female character go on a revenge spree. But again none of these story aspects are dependent on these women being robots. There was zero variance from what a human existing today would do. While Star Trek: TNG speculates how would humans behave if we solved our major societal ills. Even if there weren’t aliens or tech, right there it explored a very interesting “what if”!!!!

Scifi and genre movies can be so much more than they’ve been lately. We do not need another action movie covered in a thin veneer of scifi. We need real scifi. Scifi that dares to ask questions, to speculate and ask “what if”. Scifi that lets us explore the human condition. That sometimes lets us imagine new and better futures. That is the scifi I want to see.

(ps. The pic is from when he was stealing cars! Those scenes were hilarious!! Haha!)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Belle (2013 film)

I don’t know why it has hit me so hard. I most thoroughly enjoyed the movie Belle for so many reasons. Partly for the wonderful, wonderful performances of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid. There were so many heart-wrenching scenes between them. Or for that matter the scenes between Gugu and Tom Wilkinson tugged on my heart strings as well. Oh love. Familial and romantic. sigh. So upon seeing the name of the director I realized there was a chance she was a woman and so I quickly had to check imdb to find out more about the director and writer. And seeing that they were both women, both people of colour, just set me to sobbing. I think out of relief. The film industry, like so many industries, is dominated by white men in positions of power. And this wonderful movie discussing something so critical as racism, and even sexism to some degree... I couldn’t help but feel such a profound relief that it had been allowed to be told by women of colour.

As I write this I am confused as to why I feel such relief? Is it because watching a movie like this and knowing that event sparked a change in society, a change that did happen, but has not finished happening, as we still see so much racism today. And in watching the story of that change, I can’t help feeling frustrated that in present day we have not gone far enough yet, that movies are still created by a very small cultural group, unrepresentative of the diversity we live in. And holding my breath as I waited to find out more about the creators of this movie, and just praying it was not a victim to the cultural status quo, and then the flood of relief to find out it wasn’t!! That other voices had been allowed to be heard! I have hope yet again for us. For humanity, for society.

Even the original painting they showed at the end of the movie, fascinated me. I feel like most paintings I’ve seen from that era are so serious and these women are portrayed as so lighthearted and happy! I can’t help but keep staring at it! :))) And I just loved the passion Sam Reid conveyed for his character John Davinier!! Passion for his cause, to defend what’s right, and passion for Dido herself. sigh.... :) A most beautiful movie!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Warrior (2011 film) + discussion on violence

I’ve been slacking on blog posts, partly coz lack of inspiration, partly laziness when inspiration hit. Usually inspiration is finishing a fucking amazing movie, book, or TV series. Some just truly fucking hit me out of the ballpark. This was one and I’m gonna write while still sitting here in amazement at this movie. Warrior, 2011, starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, and Jennifer Morrison. I can’t remember who recommended it to me, I think partly coz of Jennifer Morrison and her awesomeness! (love her in Once Upon a Time! :) It’s a fight movie plain and simple, but goddamn is it a motherfucking awesome fight movie!!! I prefer boxing, but dammit those MMA fights were fucking incredible!! I can’t think of a fight movie that got me so involved in sooooo many fights! ie. usually they get you all riled up for the final one or something only. This one, holy fuck. I’ve never been so into it, yelling, jumping, grunting, cheering. Ha. And I watch this at a point where I’m realizing I need to take a break from boxing to spruce up the ol’ aging body with some mobility improvements. So needless to say I want sooooo bad to go to sparring and “go to war” as they said in the movie, and as one of my sparring partners, Heather, loves to say about how we spar! Sometimes it’s about skill and being smart, and sometimes we just go to war! Haha! God I love it!!!

So yeah fucking awesome movie. So one thing that was truly amazing was the music. I love the band The National and they had songs at the beginning and end of the movie, and then the score, the motherfucking score!! SOOOOO amazing!! I love great soundtracks. Music that swells as the scene swells!! And the first hit of the last fight.... music rising before it starts, a lull of almost silence, then POW with the first hit!! I gotta say that sounded tremendous on my big speakers!! Tremendous!!! (then I realized it's 1 am and my neighbours are gonna kill me... sheepish look :/ ... and so I reluctantly put on headphones for the last bit.... :(

So much was so great about this movie... Nick Nolte as the pathetic ex-alcoholic abusive father of the two brothers fighting. The shit between brothers, father, etc. that’s just hinted at in the beginning, clues about their history come out and you’re intrigued and are dying to find out more. It reminds me so much of the Battlestar Galactica fight between Apollo and Starbuck... nothing like a fight to dredge up all the shit between two people. God I gotta re-watch that soon! I watched the extended DVD edition of that episode and it was amazing! I can’t even imagine how paltry 45 min of it would’ve been!

And the ending of this movie! I was curious to find out what exactly happens after it all ends, but kept thinking you gotta end at this point, you gotta. You show any more and you’ll have ruined what you worked so hard to create. And it was just right. Just perfect. And the whole ending fight between the brothers, the anger, the anguish.... sigh... :(

So one thing I kept thinking throughout this movie is a debate I have often in my head. I believe in pacifism, I don’t think violence is ever the answer, especially on global or societal problems. I also believe we as individuals would be better off without anger. Coz I’m recently re-reading the mindfulness book Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, and I understand why he says “pillow-pounding” is not the answer to anger issues, that you need to untie the knots, the internal formations inside us that cause that anger. I wholeheartedly agree. But. sigh. We do have aggression in us, often fueled by anger. I think it’s natural and normal for humans to have aggression, and some of us have more of it than others. But I believe in sport. Sport is a controlled environment that allows us to discharge that aggression in a way that usually won’t result in death or permanent injury. Fighting sports such as boxing and MMA are an obvious outlet, but even the hits of volleyball, the jostling in basketball, the swing of a bat are all great outlets. Much better outlets than people who are aggressive in their everyday speech or interactions with others!

So what is the true way here? Is the ideal that we all become so at ease with ourselves that anger and aggression never come up? Logically I think it is. Emotionally... emotionally all I know is that I love fighting and I love watching fighting. And I don’t believe there is harm in that. I was talking with my mom recently and I was talking about how if I love watching fighting in movies and TV shows why do I find some scenes too violent? I was referring to a scene I’d seen from Sons of Anarchy when my coworker was watching it on his computer. The guy is grabbing the other guy’s head and smashing it repeatedly into the pavement with the camera glued to the increasingly bloody face. And my mom had the smartest answer! A fight is between two or more people of somewhat equal abilities, but when one person has overpowered the other and continues to inflict violence the line is crossed. That is when it becomes abuse or torture and one of the worst evils humanity inflicts. Violence. Such a big topic. But for now I think I will stop there.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

Oh my god!! I LOVE Brent Weeks!! Ok first I love him for his book The Way of Shadows that I just read. But then reading his acknowledgment and interview in the back I love the man himself!! ;) The book was amazing and the author sounds hilariously awesome and thanks “quirky” people like me who actually read the acknowledgments when they don't even know the author! haha! I realized I read them to see if I can find out what the author’s like. And you often can’t coz they just list people to thank, but with Weeks’ it was funny and endearing and open! And then add to that to his awesome post/article he wrote about George R.R. Martin choosing not to be accountable to fans, and I think this man is awesome!! :D

But now more about the book’s awesomeness. sigh. Damn! Thankfully I had time this week coz I just read the 2nd half of the book in the last 8h straight!! To say it's a page-turner is the understatement of the year!!! I’ve been reading awesome fantasy books my whole life and stayed up late to read them tons as a kid, but as an adult with responsibilities and obligations I rarely (sadly) ever have time to let myself get sucked in like that!! But holy shit did I with this book!!

The world he created from the city of Cenaria to the continent with its different cultures was amazing! Although I gotta admit at the beginning of the book I felt the world of the continent seemed a bit simplistic and not lush enough to be believable but that impression sure changed with the rest of the book! And the other hesitation in my love at the beginning was the lack of female characters. ie. just a street kid for our hero to take care of, an ex-whore, daughters, and wives. Nothing atypical. It changed somewhat with the introduction of Viridiana, and Kaldrosa totally eased my worry. A bold female thrown in, in a role that didn’t dictate it had to be female. THAT my friends is what marks a great gender-neutral writer!! That’s one of the many things I love about Steven Erikson, random characters in all sorts of roles are women.

What else to say beyond that the fact that it’s awesome storytelling!!! TRULY FUCKING AWESOME!! Again makes me bemoan the popularity of Tolkien and Martin when it comes to adult fantasy, when there’s soooo much better out there!!! And I love that the book had an “extras” section like DVD’s do with interviews!! When you love a book (or movie or show), you’re dying to find out more about it and its creators! So happy books are starting to do that too!! And I like what Weeks said in his response to the comment the trilogy has a really dark and gritty feel... he mentioned how can you have hope and redemption (and heroics I’d say) mean anything when they don’t come from darkness and weakness? I wholeheartedly agree!! And agree that the books have hope and redemption! I think that’s what Martin has to learn as a storyteller, tell us how shitty it is, how weak and selfish people are, but show that they have moral debates, and goddamn sometimes people do rise above the shit!!! Or at least it makes for more captivating reading if they do! I think coz it inspires hope in us as readers? That we could too? Martin squashes all hope. All hope of good characters surviving, all hope of any redemption for any of the medium to bad characters, etc. God I hate how much I’m comparing to Martin but I just finished season 3 of Game of Thrones and am reminded of all that I hated about the books.

Also just an isolated comment... (SPOILER ALERT!!) .... when Durzo tells Kylar that he scarred Doll Girl’s face... oh my god I felt punched in the stomach!! Just as Kylar must’ve. :/ And I was so upset Durzo’s letter to Kylar was ruined by blood!!! ARRRRGGHHH!! haha! And I love the cover designs!!! Sooooo gorgeous!!!

Unrelated... but in the last few years I’ve been so happy to find new amazing fantasy authors, Weeks, Erikson, Patrick Rothfuss, but realize it’s time to find some great female ones!! There’s always such a different feel to a book by a female author. I find I tend to relate more and get involved more. No guarantees but I’m eager to find some new greats! :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Epic Movie Soundtracks

I feel like so many things started with the movie Gladiator. It was the beginning of the trend of making epic historical movies (with Alexander, Troy, and Kingdom of Heaven following) and the beginning of amazing epic movie soundtracks!!! That I obsess over!!! I LOVED the Gladiator soundtrack, the first soundtrack I bought that was a score and not a collection of songs. And the part I loved to death, that to this day is still the fucking best soundtrack snippet EVER, is the one at the 5:50 mark of ‘The Battle’ track. It’s that first battle scene of the movie where they’re fighting the Gauls, and Maximus and the others descend on them from behind!! Fuckin’ amazing!! SO rousing!! And of course on that soundtrack the haunting ‘Elysium’ track was mesmerizing and I loved that one to death too. Always made me picture his hands caressing the wheat fields. sigh. :) May it be noted that Gladiator is one of my all-time favourite movies! I’ve watched it sooo many times!

Now what other soundtracks have rocked my world? LOTR had a pale version of Gladiator’s ‘The Battle’ at the beginning of ‘The Uruk-Hai’ in the Two Towers soundtrack. Also found in a few other tracks. It was rousing but not nearly as much. Well fuck LOTR wasn’t nearly as rousing or exciting altogether in my opinion. :/ So much so that I still haven’t seen any of The Hobbit movies yet. And me a self-professed fantasy buff. sigh. That’s how unexciting they are! The identically-named ‘The Battle’ track on the Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack (1st movie) is also awesomely exciting!

Another favourite historical soundtrack that is amazing in every single track is the King Arthur one! With ‘Budget Meeting’ being my favourite! And with a name like that I can’t help think someone was joking around naming it! I keep picturing a corporate meeting gone awry! haha! And similarly awesome is the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. With ‘Promontory’ always eliciting images of that tragic scene near the end. :((((

Then all these awesome soundtracks have led me to finding other awesome ones in non-epic historical movies! Most recently the new Tron: Legacy soundtrack blew me away!! That soundtrack rocks! And I like Daft Punk well enough but didn’t know they could make such a perfectly epic soundtrack! So many faves on that one! I guess ‘Overture’ and ‘The Grid’ come to mind, but then also ‘Disc Wars’ and ‘Finale’, and so many others!! Then the first Transformers movie soundtrack was absolutely amazing too! ‘The All Spark’ is amazing but so many other tracks as well!! Totally listened to that soundtrack on “repeat” a shitload!! :P

Then Buffy season finales for seasons 5 and 7 are absolutely, absolutely awesome!! Especially the season 7 series finale, where the spell finally made all the slayerettes real slayers and they just take down vamp after vamp after vamp!!! I can watch that scene over and over again that’s for sure!! :P

Then there’s some awesome main title music for a few TV shows that I listen to like crazy!! Main ones being Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and right now I CANNOT get enough of the Game of Thrones main title music!!! Gaaawwwrrrr!! It’s killing me how much I love it!! Another TV show that had awesome soundtrack was Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles! Awesome theme music!! And I also love the ‘Samson and Delilah’ song and could not get the ‘Donald, Where’s Your Trousers’ duet sung by the actors out of my head!!! That song is soooo good!!

Honourable mentions of soundtracks I’m not quite obsessed with (possibly coz I haven’t listened enough to them... obsession takes time you know!! haha!) are Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception, The Eagle, and Eragon. I also love the music from Blizzard’s Starcraft game... might be coz I’m obsessed with the game!! ;) And the soundtrack to the French movie Les Choristes (The Chorus) is totally amazing too. It’s about a boys choir and the songs they sing evoke all the images of the film which was so so so amazing!!

If anyone wants to share their fave instrumental soundtracks, please do!!! I’m always dying to find more!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Female character stereotypes

I've just read a most amazing article called ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative by Kameron Hurley!!!! Primarily about the stereotypes female characters have become and why we need to challenge them!! Go read it!! Absolutely fascinating and such great points!! I just wanted to share the article and some of the comments I posted on it and use this as an impetus to finally get back to writing here on my oh-so-lonely blog that I've neglected for faaaarrr toooooo long!! I'm sorry bloggie. haha! :P ... Ok so here are my miscellaneous generated by the essay and comments! :)

- omg where to start! seeing in your bio about learning to box (i’m “pretending” to learn too! haha! ie. i only spar etc “recreationally”) … it brings to mind this awesome book and one of the above comments about women need to be seen as abusers sometimes reminded me too coz the book made a good point that we need to see them that way for the sake of their victims… the book is called Kill The Body The Head Will Fall by Rene Denfeld (see my post) and she discusses female agression partly through boxing which she was doing at the time. and she makes some amazing AMAZING points along the lines of the discussion above!

- other mini-topic… i lent an old Mercedes Lackey book to a younger friend who was a bit put off by the sword ‘Need’ that only helped women etc… and i realized as i was talking to her about it, in the 80s was kinda the early stages of female fantasy writers and female warrior heroines and i would say coz of the stereotypes mentioned above female warriors often had to have become that coz of rape or some other horror coz we couldnt have them just wanting to fight right!?

- LOVE the joss whedon Equality Now speech mentioned above!! such a succint point of whats wrong!

- also all of this reminds of the Bechdel Test! a good ‘test’ of whether something (usually movies) has good female characters!

- i’m also a ‘self aware misogynist’ ! haha good term! but i think we cant help but be having grown up in our society? coz i like your point about ‘female soldiers’ vs. just soldier for women… coz guess what i call myself?! Lady Knight! instead of just knight. sigh.

- and a friend was making a *fantasy* movie… and all the soldiers were men except an ‘elite’ group of scantily clad female warriors. its fantasy you can do whatever! make women soldiers! and from what i’m grateful to learn above, even in reality there was a good many women soldiers! good to know!

- i really dont think Game of Thrones is a good example of strong female characters. not many of them are seen in a totally positive light and very few warriors. I’m loving Steven Erikson’s books in comparison coz female fighters are the norm, every army and group has some. Versus Martin who’s only female characters that carry a sword are a little girl and a woman who was only introduced in the 3rd book and had a noose around her neck in the 4th book. (i’m refusing to read the 5th) (see my post comparing them ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two cool films: Ironclad & The Eagle

So I watched these 2 movies this last week, both were historical action/drama movies from 2011 (with the same budget! $25 mil) with lots of sword fighting that I was looking forward to! :) Two different eras in Britain but similar movies enough that I hadn’t planned to watch them so close together but (awesome DVD mail order rental service!) sent them at the same time so watch them I did.

I expected Ironclad to be better, coz had read some interviews with James Purefoy (who I think is awesome ever since I saw him in the Rome TV series!!) about how gritty and real the fighting was. And the movie was awesome and had fantastic cinematography and I loved Purefoy, but right now after having watched The Eagle I realize it was awesome too! And I would say I enjoyed it more! I think because it was more involving coz it had a great character story going on as well as a tale of adventure! :) My favourite scene between them is near the beginning where Esca has to hold down Marcus while his leg is being cut open to clean up a festering wound. And the look between them was so great. Antagonism to each other but mixed with other stuff and filled with such intensity!!! It just foreshadowed all the shit they were going to go through together, the conflicts that were going to happen between them, the respect and probable friendship. The Eagle also had such beautiful scenery shots of northern Scotland! *sigh* :) Kevin Macdonald directed it and one of his previous movies was Last King of Scotland which was sooooo heavy, depressing, and heart-wrenching, but soooo damn good too. He wanted to make this movie coz he grew up loving the book it’s based on called The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. I was thinking about reading it but it was written in 1954 and I just find books have such a distinct style, feel, and language reflecting the era they were written in that I don’t find older ones as much fun to read. And the other awesome thing about The Eagle was the music!!! Really great theme-inspired score that truly added to the story like so many good soundtracks too. (ps. I still keep wanting to do a blog post about my favourite epic movie scores!! So many great ones!! :D)

So both have awesome fight scenes and great characters but I think The Eagle had a more engaging story, but Ironclad had fights with cool long/broadswords!! The movie Centurion (2010) is also about the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion like The Eagle is but that one soooo wasn’t exciting to me. Meh.

Game of Thrones tv series

Just watched The Eagle (see post above) set in Roman Britain. And I was reminded that “The Wall” from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is really Hadrian’s Wall. A massive wall separating the “civilized” south from the “barbarian” north. (even the shape of the map is similar!) Currently I’m in the middle of watching season 2 of Game of Thrones. And coz it’s well done I’m LOVING seeing the characters I know come to life!! Great casting!! I love that since they are casting accurately and realistically you see real people and not the pretty but bland types that are usually on American television. For example they have Peter Dinklage, but also Gemma Whelan and Gwendoline Christie who have strong faces that aren’t traditional pretty. Although I do gotta say... even though I love Lena Headey coz she was super awesome in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles she soooooooooo isn’t right to play Cersei in my opinion. Her smirky strength was good in the Terminator tv show, but doesn’t suit Cersei I think. Cersei is tough, vicious and beautiful but in a different way then Lena can do. (and couldn’t they have matched her eyebrows and hair better?!) And I’m also loving the title sequence to Game of Thrones!! Love the theme music, the look, and the exploration of the map!!

So I’m mostly loving watching the show but getting annoyed at all the asshole characters and the bullshit that I know is going to happen in the future since I’ve read the books. See my previous posts (why he sucks, why Erikson's better) for more about why I don’t like the book series. So my friend doesn’t get this, but I’m always much more tolerant of crap in my movies and tv shows than my books. So although I’ve vowed never to read another George R.R. Martin book after finishing Feast of Crows, I will happily continue watching the show! Primarily coz there’s a ton of good fantasy books out there, but a huge lack of good fantasy tv or movies. There’s been really just 2 good adult fantasy productions in recent years, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Tons of other shows and movies but with shitty production value. There’s a lot of good productions of kids fantasy (ie. Harry Potter, Golden Compass, Eragon) but that’s so not good enough to me. I’m just not as excited about kids' stories.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jack Layton

I want to share something I wrote about Jack. Today we watched a tribute to him and I was reminded of the intense turmoil of emotions I felt after his funeral. Obviously sadness but so many others too. So right after the funeral ended, I stayed in my seat as everyone left and wrote the piece below. :)

If you have loved and respected Jack, think on what he stood for, what his values were, what he believed in. Those values, those beliefs, those opinions are what made Jack who he was. They are inseparable, they defined him. So don't let this day pass without thinking about what those values were that so motivated Jack. Those values that kept him going through anything and everything. Jack was his values, and if you loved Jack think about loving those values. If not loving them, think about respecting those values. And respect means, as Rev. Brent Hawkes said Jack felt, respect means asking questions and not attacking.

As Stephen Lewis said in his most magnificent speech, we have been shaken by our grief but we will be steadied by our convictions. So true! And finally Karl Belanger reminded us that Jack was simply a guy that liked people. :) And he did have ambition, but not for himself, rather for our country and its people.


So today was a great day, coz I attended my first ever NDP convention!! Totally awesome!! And totally exciting to vote for Jack Layton’s successor!! I personally have decided to vote for Niki Ashton... she has the drive, the passion, the principles, the enthusiasm, energy, and the amazing ability to really connect to people, that I look for in my politicians!! And fuck! If I hear one more time "she’s great for someone so young" I'm gonna punch someone!! As a woman that's played sports and done engineering, I cannot count the number of times I've heard "she's good for a girl" about me or some other female in those areas!! What the fuck does that mean?!?! That is mild sexism/ageism!! Coz it means you expect so little out of the "lesser" gender, age group, race, etc that you're impressed that they're on a par with old white guys?! Anyways rant over! ;)

(photo from

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being Erica and life shit! :)

Yes. On a sci-fi/fantasy blog, I am going to discuss a regular TV drama! But it’s not a regular one, it’s a good one! ;) ... Being Erica! And you could argue it has sci-fi elements coz she travels back in time to fix past regrets as part of her therapy! :) But the main reason I love it coz it talks about some of the life shit angst some of us feel in our 30’s. (see my story Crossroads) And all the little issues you debate and wonder about. I’m prompted to write because of a couple of episodes I recently watched from season 2.

I was talking with a friend about an issue that came up in the episode Yes We Can (S02E05). She gets a "do-over" day where she gets to do her day a second time but no one involved will remember it. A day with no consequences so no reason to restrain yourself or hold back in any way! :) So she decides to speak her mind about her disapproval of her sister's marriage. And of course she ends up making everything worse, with her sister vowing never to talk to her again. And I guess the wisdom was that a lot of the "rules" holding us back from saying and doing anything we want are for the sake of not hurting others, not always fear of breaking some artificial societal conventions. Albert Camus' The Outsider comes to mind. We discussed it in class as if the character was just breaking free from these artificial rules imposed by us on society, but I'm sorry... he killed a guy! And whether that's morally wrong or not (coz the character didn't seem capable of grasping the morality of it), a group of people that decide to live together in whatever form (community, city, etc.) practically speaking have to agree not to kill each other! You just can't live together otherwise!

And the other episode I couldn't help think about was coz I was just reading a great article about pushing ourselves out of our boring routines to explore life (for so many good reasons) and he wrote: "Stretching in these small ways [by trying new things] prepares us to take wider leaps." and that "It also becomes easier to rise to our highest callings, most of which lie beyond the threshold of familiarity." And I couldn’t help but think how perfectly that was illustrated in the Being Erica episode Cultural Revolution (S02E04). She got given an amazing opportunity to write and publish her first book and going with our classic thinking of "no guts, no glory" she decides to do it despite the huge feelings of wariness, fear, and reluctance. But as is always the case with these episodes she learns a wiser attitude by the end. That although it is true great reward rarely comes without great risk, what's more important is "that you take the risks that are right for you." (as Erica put it ;) Which this article described perfectly. We take these small leaps so that we are ready for the big opportunity if it comes our way. Which means that it’s ok to say ‘no’ to great opportunities if we're not ready. That it actually makes sense to. But that ideally we use that to galvanize us, to re-motivate us to continue expanding and improving ourselves so that next time one comes we're ready! :) I myself keep thinking of one I had. I had the opportunity to produce a stage combat show, but once I started looking into it I was overwhelmed. I wanted to be in the show, but my skills were limited coz I had only recently completed Basic FDC level, I had no knowledge of suitable venues, and as well it would all be part of a party that had to be organized as well. I can't say I regret backing out, hindsight has at least made me sure there was no way I could've done it, but I do think about it a lot as a lost opportunity that unfortunately I wasn't ready for.

Oh! One more great point from the episode! That doing something different than we'd usually do, is the actual "risky" thing, not doing something that is perceived by others as risky!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Erikson’s better than Martin

Wrote this a bit ago, but just thought I’d post this now as I’ve just finished Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates two nights ago, and finished Game of Thrones last night, the TV show based on George R.R. Martin’s series. And boy oh boy was Deadhouse Gates as amazing as his other books!! Again that feeling at the end of “Oh my god!! Oh my god!!” as I read about the devastation outside the gates of Aren. Sigh. Definitely Duiker’s story line captivated me the most. Coz of Coltaine, coz of Duiker’s nameless marine :), coz of the Wickans and the Malazan 7th Army. Sigh. And I loved the battle scenes! I love strategy, so hearing in great detail what happened in each battle was thrilling!!

Also I want to write a bit about reading order for Erikson’s books. After reading Gardens of the Moon (Book 1) I wanted to carry on with those characters so after doing a bit of research I realized Memories of Ice (Book 3) continued most of them. So I read that before Deadhouse Gates (Book 2) and there was really no issues of timelines! I did miss out on the drama of Duiker’s last line in Memories of Ice but feel it’s an acceptable loss to get my “need to know what happens next in Genabackis” fix!! Haha! As well House of Chains (Book 4) continues what happened in Deadhouse Gates so I’m actually much happier with this read order!! ie. Now I can get my “need to know what happens next in Seven Cities” fix right away!! Haha!

Anyways, here’s the reasons I think Erikson’s better than Martin:

• In Erikson’s books female fighters are the norm, every army and group has some. Versus Martin who’s only female characters that carry a sword are a little girl and a woman who was only introduced in the 3rd book and killed off in the 4th book. (She may not have been but I refuse to read Dance with Dragons. :/ ... )
• He’s a way better storyteller!! Actually understands that there should be a climax and resolution, and knows how to use multiple plot lines and make them come together for one conclusive climax in each book!! And all his books are connected without having a single story arc that spans 7000 pages. No wonder we and Martin are all lost! I frankly doubt he’ll be able to tie in all the story lines into the final outcome.
• He’s not stingy with his use of magic!! It’s soooo refreshing!! But many fantasy books are? I think the last fantasy I read that used magic liberally was Mercedes Lackey’s Vows and Honor books! Martin I can’t even remember if there was any magic? Besides hint at the supernatural white walkers, and has dragons?!
• He doesn’t kill off everyone. He kills some when it adds to the story, but not to the point of making it a Shakespearean tragedy like Martin does. A comment I got on my previous Martin post made a good point, when the author goes on killing sprees it effectively negates his good characterization making me not care about the characters anymore, knowing they’re going to die.
• One thing Erikson’s not as good at is maybe characterization. They’re still great characters and have some depth, but maybe not enough. They become slightly one-dimensional or maybe two ;) at the most. This probably happens because he just has soooo many characters.
• BUT the majority of Erikson’s characters are likable unlike Martin’s!! I mentioned this in The Tudors post below, but both TV shows seem to think lack of likable characters can be made up for by sexy scenes with beautiful people. I think there’s more sex in the show then there was in the books? But it’s been ages since I read them so I’m not sure I remember correctly.
• He’s Canadian! ;)
• Erikson can pull off these beautifully written dramatic scenes or even sometimes single sentences! A lot like Guy Gavriel Kay, who is a master at that! Although Kay still does it a lot better. ;) As for Martin... I don’t remember any, but that could be just my shoddy memory! And I don’t mean the scene has lots of drama going on, but an event that has a huge impact, and is described wonderfully.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Tudors

I suspected this would be the case but wasn’t sure it would happen. Finishing The Tudors has swept me up emotionally to great sadness mixed with a myriad of other emotions. Pride? Nostalgia? Sympathy? Joy? So unusual to feel these when I think about this show. Pride at monarchs that had nothing to do with me. Nostalgia for lives I have not lived, just witnessed fictional accounts. Sympathy for the hardship they all went through. Joy... that one is harder to explain. This story has culminated in positive feelings but they are so hard to identify or interpret. There is simply a feeling of grandness.

It does stem from having spent 4 seasons with this story and characters. I was reluctant to watch oftentimes, most of the characters are hardly likable, always so busy scheming to further their own ambitions and status. Although at times their machinations were simply a defensive act. I also have realized while watching Game of Thrones recently and comparing it to The Tudors, both shows seem to think lack of likable characters can be made up for by sexy scenes with beautiful people. And it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. Up until now I would’ve said Rome was one of the best shows I’ve watched. Primarily in terms of greatness of story, a story well-organized and well-presented. I felt that way because if I can feel sorrow at the end for one of the characters that was a conniving, manipulative bitch much of the time, then they have done a good job. And that same measure applies here. At the end I feel such sorrow for King Henry, who much of his life was angry and capricious. Executing and ruining whoever displeased him. Even to his own regret at times. A character who was often not loving nor sympathetic. Yet I still felt for him.

But inevitably you look back at what they all went through in their lifetimes and it is tremendous. And well shown by flashbacks during the last episode. But even before that I couldn’t help but remember Henry and Charles as young men in the beginning of Henry’s reign in the first season. And how much they changed. I think that is what strikes me at the end of some of these shows, how much the characters have grown and changed. Dollhouse I especially noticed that. And with The Tudors it was definitely the case as we covered their whole adult lives. How do you not change over that long a period, or in the case of Dollhouse, over such major events?!

Overall a very fantastic show and a good jumping point to learn more of the history of that period. Almost after every episode I found myself going online to read more about the people and events portrayed. The biggest negative of this series is perhaps its historical inaccuracy. But from whatever I’ve read of actual events, I personally find they were acceptable digressions from reality to make the story more interesting or easier to follow considering how long a time period they had to cover. As the creator Michael Hirst put it in one article, and I wholeheartedly agree, “Mr. Hirst decided that any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures.” Which is what I believe historical dramas should be: interest-inspiring first, accurate second. Because after watching them you still have learnt the essence of what happened but fleshed out with feelings and people.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Women, Agression & Boxing :)

As an actress hoping to perform fights in film/TV/stage, as an actress who boxes recreationally, and as an actress who grew up on fantasy books about female warriors, I feel this is a worthwhile topic to discuss here on this blog! :) Mainly triggered by a most awesome book I just finished written by Rene Denfeld and called Kill The Body The Head Will Fall. Self-described as “A closer look at women, violence, and aggression.” The writer started boxing just as women were finally allowed to compete at the amateur level in the U.S. in 1993. (I find it weird professional was allowed first?) As she boxed, she started to question her assumptions about women and violence, did a bunch of research, and out came this book!

In it Denfeld tackles a variety of topics related to this issue. She starts with examining whether women are actually weaker than men. She wrote that generally women are about 2/3 as strong as men, but that's mostly due to size difference and when comparing men and women of the same height and weight, the differences become substantially less. And with many differences being due to a lifetime of dissimilar activities. She mentioned one U.S. Army study that found with adequate training average women are totally capable of performing all the military tasks required of soldiers. So not only does training (or lack of it) affect women’s strength, but also psychological expectation plays a part as one study showed. The study used just one instance of suggestion, but can you imagine what a lifetime of being told you’re the weaker sex could do to you!?

As well Denfeld looks at aggression differences and of course has no easy conclusion. There are examples of both sexes having aggression, and then discussions ensue about biological vs. socialized differences which are almost impossible to unravel. Needless to say the author wholeheartedly believes women should be able to compete against men, and could one day compete on the professional level. Hmmm... boxing is an interesting sport... it’s one of the only ones where you’re matched by weight with your competitor. Making it possibly the first sport to feasibly introduce professional competition of men vs. women?

And to answer the strength issue, I’m reminded of a piece of information a female boxer at my gym mentioned, that Lucia Rijker (a pro female boxer), hits stronger than a male boxer of her own size! 900 lbs of force vs. 700 lbs.!! Substantially harder! So not wanting to share false information ;) I double-checked it and it was evaluated on a Discovery Channel show! Check it out here. Upon hearing that the first time, I thought about it and realized as women we know we don’t have the upper body strength, so our arms alone will never have much power. In knowing that I think we focus more on technique, and technique in any sport is where you get your power! :) I think the first time I was taught that was in dragonboat racing in high school. Use your back they said! Not your arms! Coz your back is way stronger than your arms. :) I am proud to say I try and make sure I use every ounce of strength I can gather from my pivoted foot, through my legs, through the twist of my hips and core, through my back and chest, and into my punch... WHAM!

Denfeld then looks at stereotypes of women’s anger, maternal instinct, and violence. She looks at stats and studies of women in crime, in military, and sports. I think the most important reason to fight the stereotype of women as non-aggressive, nonviolent people is for the sake of their victims. The author shows tons of stats about substantial number of child abuse, child murder and spousal abuse is done by women. When it’s reported, police doubt it and do nothing about it, leaving victims unaided.

The chapter that struck me the most was the one about fear. It really identified some of mine and how socialized these fears have been. Studies have evaluated what women are most scared of. And usually it was in proportion to the likelihood of it occurring. For example living in North America we’ll be more scared of getting mugged than let’s say getting shot by a sniper. The one that is completely out of proportion is rape. I’d wondered about this myself, I constantly think about how to avoid getting raped and worrying about it as I walk alone at night, yet no one I knew had ever been raped. Not to say it doesn’t happen but what were the actual chances of it happening?! And I think back and ever since I was a teenager I was told to be wary of getting raped, from parents, to articles in community papers or girls teen magazines, to stories in books and movies. It’s really great to make people aware and be careful but I can’t help but feel it was taken too far. I envision fighting a male, never a female coz of that fear. And not winning but hoping to at least to cause some damage. As Denfeld describes in the book, many women “find little comfort in being physically fit or being aware of their surroundings.” She writes that our media shows women when raped, fighting back pathetically, uselessly, and never shows a woman successfully defending herself. She suggests that maybe the reason rape is so scary because we are taught there is nothing we can do about it.

Denfeld also makes the great point that one self-defense course can’t make up for a lifetime of physical self-doubt. How true! She says self-defense requires proactive aggression. That since we can’t imagine or believe that we could fight back, we can’t. “What’s more, everyone else knows it.” she writes. That is the scariest thought to me.

A great example she has of this disproportionate fear is how parents check their kids Halloween candy for razor blades, etc. So parents end up conveying a distrust in the world based more on urban myth than real facts, leaving their kids fearful for no real reason.

And finally she writes how this fear will make women lash out and turn into angry, judgmental, aggressively afraid people. One example being KKK women actively sowing racism and bigotry. This isn’t good for anyone involved.

The stereotypical views of men and women’s aggression has led women to “end up fearing men as we diminish our own ability to defend ourselves from them. Our one-sided assumptions of aggression forget that women can – and need to be able to – fight back.”

This book was amazing to read. I motored through it devouring every page. Denfeld is an amazing writer and her descriptions of her scenes at the gym were beautiful and captivating to read!! The scene she describes on the last page of her book was so perfect and moving I even had tears in my eyes up while reading it! :) sigh. :) I loved this book coz it dealt with boxing which I love, which inevitably leads to discussion of aggression which I enjoy. Friends wondered why I would want to do something as aggressive as boxing, which made me realize many people have outlets for their aggression. For me it used to be spiking a volleyball for most of my life, then realizing I didn’t have to wait to hit things and could hit them all the time in boxing! :) So for me it’s hitting, for others it may be the jostling in a basketball game, or playing a video game. Then there are the less benign methods of letting it out in conversation and behaviour and picking verbal fights, or even trolling on the internet. Aggression is a part of us and can’t be ignored.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Defying Gravity

What a show. Really, really amazing. I am overwhelmed yet again by a finale and so am finding it hard to write. Sigh. And how appropriately commemorative that I write this on the day of the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight!!! :)

Now the worst motherfucking part is that this show like soooo many other great sci-fi shows got fucking canceled after the first season. Actually it got canceled mid-fucking season. Way to give it a fucking chance guys. Flashbacks of Firefly... grrrrr. Another great, felled before its time. Sigh. :( When will they realize the higher budget of sci-fi is worth it?!?! It provides so much more interesting and captivating story lines!! Nothing in our present day is going to feel as exciting as a manned crew touring our solar system! As exciting as having the first human walk on Venus! I didn’t live through humanity’s first walk on the Moon. But now I can begin to imagine how it captivated everyone on Earth. As well some stories, even emotional stories, need a different setting to be explored and told. They simply can’t happen in our world!

Spoiler alert! They’re coming up! :)

Right from the first couple of episodes I was intrigued. Story was interesting, acting was great, production value was high! :) The flashbacks to their training programs 5 years earlier served as really great juxtapositions to some climactic scenes! Sometimes flashbacks were too quick and short and felt waaaaayyy too much back and forth but oh well. Also I thought it would be more of a straight-shooting, near future, heavier on the science, type of show so was a bit disappointed when I found out about Beta and all the almost magical type stuff it could do. I groaned and thought ‘Oh god no! Please don’t muck about with that!’ ... Coz there’s various ways to do sci-fi. You could just assume science is advanced enough to fly us through space, give us better technology and leave it at that. The Star Trek’s mostly do it that way. But then ones like Deep Space Nine get more magicky/ supernaturally, and some books like Anne McCaffrey’s Rowan book series throw in telepathy and telekinesis as huge spaceship-moving-capable forces. I love fantasy more but still usually prefer my sci-fi to be more science-based. But I gotta admit often throwing in some magic-type elements can do wonders for storytelling. Lets you ignore reality to create a more interesting plot or world. ie. Think of Avatar without that magic bond/ connection thing that happened with the Tree of Souls and without the wildlife fighting back.

I found this show coz one of my favourite actresses Christina Cox was in it. I think I first noticed her as the female mercenary in Chronicles of Riddick... she was soooo kick-ass!! Then watched Better Than Chocolate which she was great in! And ever since have been kinda following her and watching her stuff whenever I can. I was thrilled to see her in an episode of Dexter too! She was perfect! I’ve mentioned this in a facebook post but I really feel a lot of the guests on that show do some of their best acting there! Then I watched a Mutant X and First Wave episodes she was in and recently the tv series Blood Ties which I hope to write a blog post about soon! Coz it was awesome! :)

And all the other actors were amazing too! Seeing Ron Livingston in such a serious role after only knowing him from Office Space was weird, but he was totally great! Actually the whole cast were!! Loved them all! And at least it was more multi-cultural than most shows with more visible minorities.

Anyway... just thinking about which other genre shows were great and got canceled prematurely? At the forefront Firefly comes to mind of course. That will be the biggest tragedy of television for a long time!! And Dollhouse. Legend of the Seeker. Rome. I haven’t watched The Cape, but saw parts of it while my boyfriend watched it and it looked quite good, definitely too good to be canceled after only 9 episodes?!?! Also Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was great and should’ve gone past 2 seasons too! Any others?!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Great original vampire short story!

i've just read a most awesome awesome short story!! loved it! it's called Though Smoke Shall Hide the Sun and you can check it out at a scifi/fantasy publisher that has made a most interesting and interacitve webspace!! :) i posted this comment at the story but wanted to share it here too! :)

"i have often avoided reading short stories over the years coz didnt feel enough of a world could be conveyed, nor could depth of story and characters, but you did it beautifully!!! :) and like everyone mentioned above... i too am heartily sick of vamp stories, and even *more* sick of human chick-male vamp combos, so this was nice and refreshing! and it made me realize why vamp (and supernatural) stories are getting infinitely boring is coz they're always set in our world. and i realized a big reason i read scifi/fantasy is for the interesting worlds and settings created! and the world you have here is incredibly intriguing!!! i would die to read more about these two and the world they inhabit!!! and funny part is i had a dream of a very similar world/character/situation that i thought would make a great story! guess so! :)

also like the others i loved the description of what dawn is like for vamps! also liked the idea of a supernatural being turned into a vamp! dont think i've read that before! :) and its not something that crossed my mind (i think coz i was too into the story :) but Lightbringer's comment above was a good point... why wouldnt she take over if she has that kind of power? but i'm assuming there must be limits to her power?

in any case thanks for the awesome read!!! :))))"