retsuko: (Default)
For the spoiler-phobic, don’t read more! )

Tl;dr version: It was so engrossing that I completely forgot to eat the packet of fancy cookies I’d smuggled into the theater in my purse. It’s the best movie in the MCU to date, at least in my humblest of opinions.
retsuko: (spoilers!)
Spoilers like whoa. )

On a separate, non-spoilery note, I have never hated commercials as much as I did during the second half of this show. Every exciting moment, every turn and twist of the plot, was ruined when we cut to a car or campaign ad. I'm starting to think that I would actively patronize companies that presented TV shows without commercial interruption.
retsuko: (Default)
In books:

Thanks to Goodreads' list-making capabilities, I have a record of the 57 books I read during 2013. Of those 57, I didn't finish 3, for reasons related to lack of time, boredom, or disgust. Out of the remaining 54, 4 were non-fiction (which I'm proud of, since I'm always trying to read more non-fiction; left to my own devices, I know I'd be stuck in an endless loop of shoujo manga and urban fantasy that wouldn't really teach me anything new about the writing process or the world at large.) 14 were graphic novels or manga, the best of which was Saga. I'm eagerly awaiting the third trade paperback of this excellent series!

In general, I've stayed away from reading that was excessively dark this year, mainly because I just didn't have the mental energy to deal with sadder subject matter. In this spirit, I'm currently reading I Am Malala and Tiny Fey's Bossypants at the same time--I read Malala's book until I get too sad, and then I switch over to Fey's as a counterpoint. It's a slightly disjointed reading experience, but it's better for my soul. (It does help knowing that Malala's book has a reasonably happy ending, too.)

I'm not sure how many books I'll challenge myself to read in this coming year, but I certainly hope to beat my record this year.

At the movies:

Somehow, I've managed to see quite a few movies this year, which is a miracle of sorts. I still haven't seen American Hustle, but it seems as though that will definitely linger in theaters for a few more weeks, so I still have time. I saw a lot of movies this year on Netflix that were pretty good, and I also managed to see a lot of things in theaters. My favorites are "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Frozen." (I kept imagining these two as a sort of messed up double feature, in that order. They're both about familial relationships, and the mental traps that we set for ourselves and each other.)

There aren't any movie properties in 2014 that I'm chomping at the bit to see (at least, not that I'm aware of) but I'm sure there'll be some great things anyway, regardless. :)
retsuko: (spoilers!)
Like the tin says: spoilers! )

In non-spoilery bits:

* Did anyone see it in 3D? I think there were a few sequences that might have been made more exciting with that, but I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

* How does everyone pronounce Smaug? My Dad, when reading it aloud to me, always pronounced it as "Smog," but all the actors had a thing with "SmOWgh" going on. Other than my Dad ironically referencing the annoying pollution problem, was he totally off the mark? :S

* We shelled out for Arclight again (*sighs*), at a 21-and-over showing. I still think movie chains that encourage alcohol consumption are missing out on potential merchandising profit by not offering drinks that are relevant to the movies being shown. For example, I would have bought mead at a Hobbit showing, or I would buy a martini at a James Bond showing, etc. etc. But it was the same old liquor, and overpriced at that.

* In the trailer park: Christopher Nolan's new project is inscrutable, other than using stock historical footage; "Edge of Tomorrow"/"All You Need is Kill" is either going to rock or suck, but it's still hard to tell which; and "Jupiter Ascending" looks like the Wachowskis are attempting something completely ambitious, visually speaking.
retsuko: (fierce!)
I didn't liveblog the episode last night because I wanted to give it my full attention, and this was definitely a good idea. I was just horrifically disappointed at all the commercials. I think the show as a whole would have been better and spookier if Black Friday hadn't reared its ugly head every seven minutes. :(

Spoilers! )

Augh, two weeks! Too much cliffhanger!
retsuko: (fierce!)
Linguistic Issues:

* I'd like to know Crane's opinion of Twain and Faulkner.

* I highly doubt Crane understands "game," or not hating on the players.

* Although Abbie's conflict with Crane over the interrogation was dramatic, there's no way he'd know the rules she was talking about.

Plot Points: Spoilers! )
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
Today, I had the first real day off in a long, long while, and Yebisu and I had a lovely time seeing two different pieces of entertainment that centered around the same trope, the aligning of the planets/stars. How each version of the story used and abused the trope was an interesting bit of comparison.

First off, there's Thor: The Dark World. My expectations for this were really pretty low. I wanted something fun and relatively light, and even with the ominous title, I hadn't seen or heard anything that indicated it would be dark and serious. It was, perhaps, heavily told at times, but there was nowhere near the awkwardly exhausting constant moral dilemma-posing of The Dark Knight or Watchmen. I suppose the worst things that could be said of this installment of Thor had to with the following spoilers. )

Anyway, the aligning of the planets in Thor:TDW lead to some very interesting/amusing chase sequences near the end, and some fun science-y stuff at the beginning, and so that was a plot trope well used! So much fun!

A quick side note: if anyone can explain to me what the hell was going on in the first credits extra scene, with Sif and The Collector, and the Stone of Plot Driving, please do so in the comments. I pride myself on being up on my comic book meta-plot knowledge, but this completely stymied me. (I mean, it's a Guardians of the Galaxy tie-in, but what its significance is was utterly unclear.)

Then, there was the finale of Legend of Korra. This show has had a very uneven season; it's felt rushed in many places, and just when I thought there were too many characters already, the writers decided to add at least five more. Like many fans, I've been getting antsy since the show was moved into the Friday Night Death Slot. I know that Nick wants easily marketable things, and I suppose this is another entry for another time, about gender and capitalism and feminism and so forth. But anyway, in the last five episodes, the show finally regained its footing, and there were cliffhangers galore with stakes so high that I felt sure there'd be a string of dramatic/child-unfriendly deaths. Spoilers for the entire season. )

All in all, it was a good ending that leaves a lot of plot openings for future seasons and I HOPE it doesn't get cancelled. Now, more than ever, I cannot wait to watch this show, and the one that preceded it, with my son. I think I'm almost as excited about this as reading Harry Potter with him. :)
retsuko: (Default)
Linguistic issues:

* "gets under my skin" seems like an idiom that Crane wouldn't know.

* Smart. Phone. :D

* In-ter-net. If he had said interblag, I would have died.

Plot issues: Spoilers! )
retsuko: finn & jake's fist bump of awesome (fist bump!)
Linguistic issues:

"Abbie, what is this Mets game of which you speak?"

It's Katrina's dialogue that seems out of place to me, like the line about evil succeeding when good men do nothing. Isn't she ahead by about 200 years?

Story notes: Spoilers! )
retsuko: (fierce!)
Language issues:

"Abbie, what is this fixer-upper/spackle/Ren Fair/'tude of which you speak?"

Although to be fair, the writers did wisely lampshade the spackle comment.

Whoa, Middle English?! I hope there is more made of this, although that's a tall order in less than 42 minutes. Oh, hey, there is more! And it is kind of beautiful to hear.

Disorder? I think ailment or illness is far more likely.

Plot issues: Spoilers ahoy! )
retsuko: antique books (books)
Language issues:

* Nice use of 'inglorious', writers. Also: stoke.

* How does Crane know what the foster care system is, or how it might (or might not) work?

* "This is awkward." Way too ironic/modern. Crane would probably say something like, "This is unpleasant." Possibly dreadful.

* "Abbie, what is this drug czar/freedom fighter of which you speak?"

Spoilery notes: More here! )

Next week: OMG YOU GUYS: drama plague!
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Through Hulu's terribly commercialized interface, I was finally able to see the Agents of Shield pilot. (I work Tuesday nights and missed it.) I tried to go in with very few expectations, and for the most part, that strategy paid off. I was pleasantly surprised when unexpected references were made, or this or that actor showed up (happiest surprise=Ron Glass, who I hope isn't just making a cameo here.)

What I liked:

Fitz & Simmons: These two characters were having the most fun, and I think the actors must like each other very much, because their banter was believable and funny, very true to life and not at all nerdish stereotype. They also had the most personality of any of the characters, although the others all had HINTS dropped about background information that will no doubt come to light soon enough.

J. August Richards: The character and the actor were both fantastic. Richards is such a good actor, and it was a joy to see him on my TV screen again. Spoilers regarding who he played: )

Union Station: Yay for a real L.A. location! I love that station and have often felt it would be a perfect setting for a movie or show, and it did not disappoint. I was trying to guess from the lighting what time of day the crew was shooting during, and I think it was relatively early morning, judging from the brightness of the light.

Lola = Ha ha ha, excellent! :)

What I did not like:

Grant Ward: I hate to judge a character so quickly because he does have all season to evolve, but if this is the character the audience is supposed to identify with the most, then AUGH/BARF. I don't care that he has Issues, or that he's the Best Espionage Agent Since Romanov (oh hell no), I think he's an arrogant, insufferable douchebag, and I was pleased as punch when spoilers happened. ) If he's going to continue as the central hero, then I hope he loses his arrogant B.S. really fast.

What I am "meh" about:

There was something about this pilot that felt... kind of mechanical. With other Whedon shows, especially Buffy and the first few seasons of Angel, I had the distinct impression that no one was telling anyone on the staff of the show what to do, that as long as they didn't go completely over the top, they were left alone to construct plot arcs as they liked. But this show has so many factors leading into it, and so many people producing and executive producing. It seemed a bit forced in parts, and even though Clark Gregg had a great time lamp-shading some of those forced bits of plot and/or character make-up, they were still there. I hope this feeling will go away with a few more episodes, but this sort of problem is often the thing that makes me break up with TV shows.
retsuko: (spoilers!)
Thursday!: Videos Games! Awesome Web Comics! A depressing panel that turned out OK! Talking with awesome people! )

Friday!: Defiance! Literary How-To's! Weird Outside Stuff! )

Saturday: We camped out in Room 8 for five hours! But the Adventure Time panel was worth it! Huzzah! )

Sunday!: Loose Ends of all varieties! )

General Thoughts:

~ The fundamentalists were more vocal and more... uhm, personal, this year, for lack of a better word. Last year, they just yelled about Jesus, but this year, their attacks were more Comic Con-specific, like the guy with a megaphone who shouted at all and sundry, "Don't let your souls be enslaved by comics!" (It took some willpower not to shout back, "Too late!") There were counter-protests, of course, and those looked unpleasant to referee. I tried to thank as many of the law enforcement people as I could when they weren't working or concentrating on other things; one of the transit security police officers looked surprised when I did, and confessed that he really wished he could go to the Con himself. (He wanted to meet Stan Lee for real, not just pay for an autograph.) As usual, even in the hoards of people, I never felt unsafe or afraid for my physical well-being once, and I think the SDPD is responsible in a large part for that.

~ For some reason, the crash after this Con was especially hard this year. The real world, as much as I love it, doesn't seem quite as interesting for the first few days afterwards, and today was no exception, with mundane chores and problems looming large.

~ There was a lot of zombie stuff--costumes, toys, images, etc.. It was not fun for me. I wish this trend would run its damned course.

~ There were times when the Exhibit Hall didn't seem as crowded as usual, and I couldn't figure out if it was actually truly empty, or I had just gotten really, really good at making my way through the knots of people. It is a lot easier when it's just me, and I tend to stay out of the central scrum of the big companies and their lines, but I could have sworn there were times when there were swathes of empty space, and that's an oddity.

~ The overall theme of this year's Con ended up being something along the lines of, "Crazy Contradictions!" It was personified best in the juxtaposition of the Christian Comic Arts Association booth next to the Killer Zombie Bunnies booth in the Small Press area. Comic Con often leaves me with the aftertaste of sweet and sour. On one hand, there's a pure interest in comics and reading that makes my heart sing, but on the other, there's a crass commercialism that manifests itself in the crazy-long lines for the exclusive toys and vinyl collectibles that makes me alternately groan and grumble. Comic Con is the only place where I can wear my Kate Beaton t-shirt and people not only compliment me on it, but also want one themselves. Comic Con is also the place where my phobia is everywhere, all the time, and I have to make compromises with myself to get past it, but it's also the place where many, many people I admire (both real and fictional) are front and center, and I can draw on their words and examples to give me strength. There's beautiful art, and there's the cheesiest of cheesecake, side by side; in fact, there are Charles Dickens-esque contrasts every two feet or so. It's sublime and ridiculous, and I love almost all of it, even as I realize that what I love is what some other attendees hate. But that's the beauty of multiple fandoms, and when they're all present and not in conflict, it's just completely awesome.

Pictures are here, updated with Saturday stuff. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on Sunday, so no extra photos. Still, lots of good ones, though. :)
retsuko: (Default)
SDCC Update: A. arrived safe and sound! And exhausted. While I do envy her train trip across the country, I think three days of traveling that way has its own stresses and tiring aspects, and I'm feeling very lucky that I live in San Diego right now.

~ The area outside of the Convention Center continues to get larger and larger. (Realistically, at this point, I'm starting to think that you can make a day of it even without a ticket to the Con itself.) There's an Adult Swim bouncy castle, a Hello Kitty merchandise installation next to the Silver Samurai armor from the upcoming Wolverine movie, and two Justice-League-themed Kias. (The Flash makes sense. Aquaman does not.) Over next to the Hilton, there are five inflatables of the Teen Titans characters, a Lego Hobbit village, and the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van. I've haven't even gotten up to other side of the center yet, but there's a huge Ender's Game pavilion, and a food truck area.

~ I have the only item of swag that I wanted: a Mockingjay lapel pin that is actually quite stylish for something free. That said, I stood in line for half an hour to get it, and I'm DONE with standing in lines for stuff. My policy from here on out is if it's easily available and it's something I want, great, but if not, THE HELL WITH IT.

~Cartoon Network has an Adventure Time installation that I need to get close to so that I can photograph it. :D

Photos to follow later when I'm not on a limited timeline. I've seen some adorable kids' costumes, but the best was a sleepy, three-year-old Thor chewing on the handle of Mjolnir.
retsuko: (moko sake!)
Squee!

General caveat: This year, I'm not doing anything Hall H, and I'm thinking Ballroom 20 is out of the question, too, due to the general level of hysteria surrounding the line to get in there. :(

Thursday )

Friday )
retsuko: (fierce!)
I thought that Star Trek Into Darkness was pretty damned entertaining, and I'm just sad that I couldn't go with a giant group of friends to squee over it. Spoilery, happy things! )

This isn't to say that it was flawless, though. Spoilery, critical things! )

If anyone is contemplating seeing it in 3D, I don't know if I'd especially recommend it one way or another; there were one to two sequences that were made more exciting with it, but I suspect they'd be just as good in regular old 2D.

My biggest problems, though, have nothing to do with spoilers, and have to do with the over-hyping and eventual fan backlash:

1) I got really, really sick of hearing about this film months before it opened. The back-and-forth over who Engelbert Snickersnack* was actually playing was maddening, because in the end, who he was and what he did weren't the point (although they were catalysts for some of the conflict in the story.) It's a bit like getting mad that you've been spoiled for Citizen Kane by being told that Rosebud is the sled; if you're angry about that, you've hopped on the wrong train and wasted your time. So I was annoyed that so much of the publicity and pre-show talk focused on that, instead of trying to assure fans that this AU reboot, although doing some unconventional things, is true to the spirit of the original.

2) The fan backlash has been huge and while I understand that Trekkies/Trekkers/Your-Chosen-Sobriquet-Goes-Here are often easily riled (hell, even I'm on the defensive about some stuff in the above critical part), I got very tired of reading multiple comments on multiple forae to the effect of, "J.J. Abrams/This Actor/That Actress said [stupid thing about movie] and now I refuse to see it!". My beef with this attitude is that actors/writers/staff are continually saying stupid things about well-loved shows/books/movies/series and it does not diminish those beloved things. Sarah Michelle Gellar once said that she wasn't a feminist, because feminists were yucky women who don't shave their legs, and even though this was patently facile and insulting, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of Buffy the Vampire Slayer one bit. (In fact, the irony of SMG playing a feminist icon still amuses me to this day.) I understand that some fans don't like the idea of a reboot AU at all, but the bar for hating on this movie was set far too low, and a lot of fans are missing out on what the film did right.

In some ways, this brouhaha reminds me of the fuss around the remake of "Let the Right One In" a few years ago; people were refusing to see the remake because they thought the original was so good that it didn't need one. At first, I was in this camp, but then I decided to give the reboot a try, and damned if it wasn't good in an entirely different way. A good story is worth telling twice, and the difference in storytellers and their techniques is just as interesting as the story itself.

~~~

*Yebisu has been making up new names for Benedict Cumberbatch for the last few days, much to my great amusement.
retsuko: (Default)
In Movies:

Iron Man 3: Now I know what that giant bunny was doing there! Being symbolic and spoilery! )

On TV:

Doctor Who, Spoilers through "Nightmare in Silver" (which, in and of itself, was a pretty awful title; it sounded like a terrible fanfic written by a 15-year-old who thought themselves quite clever...): Read more... )

The Office, Series Finale: That was a really lovely ending, exactly how I want to think about that group of people. I'm surprised the writers, actors, and staff pulled it all off, but they did, and well done, too!

May 2016

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