Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mary Queen of Scots (2018 film)

Oh my. I am so deeply sad. The 2018 film 'Mary Queen of Scots' was heart-wrenching. The end-credits music is shredding my soul as I listen and write this. I knew the story. I knew the reluctance with which Queen Elizabeth I executed her cousin. I knew the tragedy. Because in that time period, men and especially women, faced so many tragedies. So much manipulation, so much scheming, so many gambles that succeeded, but more often failed. I first realized how brutal and enormously unfair that era was when I read a novel about Lady Jane Grey when I was a kid. A young woman pushed into vying for the throne by her family despite her wishes, and then when that gamble failed, beheaded at the age of 17. I knew Mary's fate was equally tragic, but my heart hurts thinking about the treacherous sabotage of her reign that her council and brother carried out years before her execution. Her husband's betrayal, her brother's twice, and most especially her protector's.

And then I'm struck again and again, how monarchs like Elizabeth I, despite their seeming power, can exert so little of it sometimes. How they are the mercy of their nobles' goodwill, and the perceptions of their people. She could not help Mary, no matter how much she wished to.

And then thoughts of the patriarchy come to mind. How Elizabeth's voiceover at the end reminds us how high the price is to fit into the patriarchy, to wield power. Her very joy, her love, her self had to be sacrificed.

And then I think how much calculating scheming went on during these eras. Maybe coz there were so few ways to advance your position in life or improve your circumstances, that all you had was marriages, and attempts at the throne or other powerful positions. Lifelong or life-ending ways. I do not believe we have true meritocracy currently. There is too much systemic oppression and control of our lives, but I am grateful for how much meritocracy we do have. There are many ways to get ahead that rest on your skill and determination. And although fortune and powerful connections still play a massive part, at least there is no longer this dangerous gambling with your family's lives.

And finally, although I love watching historical movies about this era, I hadn't been keen to watch this movie. I think I felt Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan were too modern, maybe I was worried the movie would be too stylized and modern too. But it was perfect! Those actresses are magnificent, and they nailed their parts of course! I shouldn't have doubted. ;)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW!! What an original, amazing scifi!!! What I loved most was the uniqueness of the world and characters she created! It was just so fascinating! My mind feels pulled in by how complex, unique, and interesting it was. Like I'm trying to understand it and grasp it, understand something I know I love, but can't quite envelop my head around!

And I've always argued that what makes a scifi story actually scifi is that the story depends on the setting! And holy moly does this story depend on the world she created! And she captured and really conveyed how a multi-part AI would think and act. So impressive!

The writing was fantastic too. Some scenes were reminding me of Guy Gavriel Kay. Like with both of them, there's sometimes these incredibly pivotal, poignant moments or scenes, and I just feel hit by them. Either emotionally or a big reveal, and I find myself rereading the scene several times to get that feeling again and absorb the scene more. Only complaint is it's not a page-turner. I was loving reading it but for the first half as everything is set up, it was easy to stop when chapters ended. As the story climaxed that of course changed but it's still not one of those novels you devour. Especially coz of the complexity of the plot as you sit there mulling over what this or that means!

And another unique and cool thing is that the Radchaai don't have different gender pronouns and the author used "she" as a gender neutral pronoun for everyone and I gotta say I enjoyed that! And boy did she well describe how the differences in language are affected by culture and vice versa!

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Years and Years ... what a great dystopian TV show!!

It's been a while since I've been bowled over by a show or movie. Bowled over enough to write about it. Bowled over into an overwhelm of emotion. And holy crap did Years and Years do that!! I do wish for a little more... hmm... emphasis on the climax I might say? The denouement was amazing and satisfying and completed the story so perfectly, but it might've been too long? Coz like there were bigger climaxes in some of the episodes! And the story and scenes were there for a big climax, it just didn't feel as if they were used big enough. Which might be coz I feel they didnt crescendo the theme music as loudly over it like in other episodes.

WHICH brings me to one of the most powerful aspects of this show!! The theme song I'm gonna call it. Holy moly!! So utterly devastingly amazing!! Check it out here although that's not as intense a version as some of the ones in the show itself I feel. The soundtrack was composed by Murray Gold and it is simply brilliant!! I'm gonna quote one of the youtube comments coz they nailed it! "I've never heard a song that is so full of hope yet so hopeless, so happy yet so sad and so insane and terrifying as this song." Insane and terrifying yet also happy and hopeful!?!? THAT is why it's so incredible! And the intensity of those emotions that it triggers... holy fuck!! And it was always played on these hugely revealing, impactful scenes!

SPOILERS COMING UP .....



And then story and the characters and the acting!! So insanely incredible! I've never seen Emma Thompson play such a hammy, Trump-like character, but god was she the right choice! That moment when she tells Stephen she could be killed if she doesn't do what shes supposed to?! Her eyes! Omg her eyes!! All the thoughts and emotions contained in them!! That's why you use Emma Thompson!! Holy fuck! And the acting from all of them is insane off-the-charts good!! And the characters so perfectly crafted!! Just wow! 

And I loved Daniel and his relationship with Viktor!! When Daniel died, I sobbed and sobbed! Not a good choice of a show to watch when I'm feeling sad and missing my dead father extra badly, coz I just got overwhelmed with the sadness! :(

And finally I need to talk about how realistic and so extremely well told this dystopia was!! When you read 1984 in modern times you can't help but dismiss it coz that particular dystopia couldn't happen given our current world. So this show made me realize you need updated dystopias! Ones that show us how easily that terrible world could happen in our current times! When people ask me why I think privacy and civil liberties are important, I just say go read or watch some scifi... you'll get your warnings. We could lose our freedoms so easily.

So yeah... Years and Years was soooo incredibly realistic!! You can see all of that happening so easily!! Trump set the path, and just thank god he didn't get re-elected. And I might be thankful to covid, coz I wonder if he would've if the pandemic hadn't hit!?

And most other dystopias, for example another Brit show Utopia comes to mind, aren't realistic enough to scare so they just feel like an exercise in depressing. Years and Years is depressing for a good reason!! And is juxtaposed with happy moments which is what real life is like! So the message of this show is so powerful, yet wrapped around a story and characters you reallly care about and totally captivate you! What a superbly crafted show!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1)The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well I'm done. Thank god. And the ending was as unfulfilling as expected. But I'm hard-pressed to pin point why exactly I hated it. Main thing is I was just soooo not engaged!! :( Maybe coz I couldn't get behind any of the characters. Maybe coz it often felt like he was over-explaining things like why they'd lost their horses, or the unnecessarily complicated magic system. So it was such a chore to read it. A painful chore. But I loved Weeks' Night Angel series so much I wanted to at least finish this one book. To see if it got more enjoyable. It did not. sigh. :(

The magic system is fascinating, the use of all the colours of light was a great idea, especially with each colour having its own properties. But it felt really silly that they have all this power, yet can only craft objects with it that they then have to use mundanely, like physically throwing fireballs, and pedalling a magic boat!?

And then he spent way too much time explaining it! I don't need to learn how to draft light, just need to read about what happens! These books remind me of Tolkien... the author spent way too much time developing their world so they can't stop talking about it, at the expense of story!

And Kip's constant inner monologue of self-criticism was exhausting. And I hate to criticize that coz I have that going on in my head too. But I read books, especially scif/fantasy, to ESCAPE those thoughts!! Not read them on the page. :(

The Night Angel series definitely had the feel of a new writer, but it was fun, and the story was so great and engaging! This one the story is amazing, great complexity, characters, world, but the book was soooo not engaging. It's like he matured as a writer but only in some areas?! Anyways, I'm disappointed. :( I love you Brent Weeks but this series is not for me.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's interesting... it feels kinda hard to rate it. I did enjoy it. I do wonder if I enjoyed it more coz I had a few people kinda warn me of its weaknesses. ;) So I think I'd say this... as far as story goes, it's amazing! Also amazing is the world she created... so cool!!

But one of the main things that kept me from loving it was the frenetic pace of events. As Anthony Rapp's review put it, the number of things that happened to her, potentially traumatizing, were unrealistically handled. ie. 10 crises later and no sleep, and she has no impairment to her thinking or speech or decisions? And it was just plain exhausting to read!! The character didn't even get the glass of water that someone got her after she was unconscious for like 12h! And she could've had a night's sleep in between each event and it not change an ounce of the story! It reminds me of some of the Anita Blake novels, same frenetic pace of crises for no reason.

And the other big thing for me was the writing style. Really convoluted sentences and paragraphs sometimes. It wasn't til I got to the end of a long paragraph that I realized it'd been about her being attacked! Or there's these long sentences where the subject is at the end of like 4 lines, or after 2 descriptive side-notes. So you're reading several lines til you know what those lines are describing or what the sentence is about.

And the ending was so open-ended for the character that I just felt a bit lost and unsatisfied. Although I guess that's to leave room for the sequels? But the story did end perfectly and satisfyingly! :)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 zip.ca (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 sabinabecker.com)

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!