retsuko: (girl reading)
In Books:

One of Our Thursdays is Missing, by Jasper Fforde: I splashed out for an autographed, hardcover copy of this and my money was not wasted! The momentum lost in the previous volume of the Thursday Next series is handily picked up by this installment! And I hadn't realized until I read this book just how much I missed Thursday... which is ironic, considering that Thursday is not the main character of this story. That is, in typical Ffordian fashion, she is and she isn't. I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, and so I will simply state that there is meta-meta-meta-plot in this, as well as meta- and meta-meta-meta-meta-, and it is sublime. There are all the wonderful little touches that The Eyre Affair had in spades; there are more fictional references* than I can shake ten bundles of sticks at; and for the first time, Fforde tackles fanfiction and includes NaNoWriMo. I was not disappointed! An excellent read!

* Including a Dr. Who reference! Of fanfiction of Thursday Next and the Doctor vs. the Daleks! Awesome, I tell you!

In Movies:

Tangled: I really appreciate the way the writers of this movie reinterpreted the classic Rapunzel storyline in regards to the healing tears. The original version of this plot element (the Witch made the Prince fall from the tower into thorn bushes, where his eyes were plucked out; he wandered friendless and alone for several years until he heard Rapunzel's singing; and upon their reunion, her tears healed his eyes) is exceedingly old school fairy tale creepy, emphasis on the creep. I also really loved the way that the animal characters were animated; the horse, in particular, seemed to have been drawn from the Chuck Jones school of animation and his expressions were meticulously rendered in their full comedic glory. It was also nice to have animal minions who weren't instantly marketable (at least, not in the traditionally cutesy way of Thumper and Flounder.) But most of all, I loved that the heroine of the story was an artist, and she used her art to interpret the world around her and express herself (and one of her most important revelations comes from her studying her creative output and thinking, not just magically knowing). This movie was very misrepresented by the ad campaign; at the time, I wrote it off as a silly, kiddie puff-piece, an exercise that I would someday have to sit through as a parent. I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not the case.

Bonus Magazine Side Note!:

Bitch magazine surveyed its readers and asked what TV Father Figure you would prefer to have from a list that included Ron Swanson (Parks and Rec), Jack Donaghy (30 Rock), Don Draper (Mad Men), Rupert Giles (BtVS), and William Adama (Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.) among others. Unsurprisingly, Giles was the heavy favorite, with 50% of the vote. I suppose, yes, given this list, that's probably who I'd vote for. But when I think of TV Father Figures, I can't help thinking that I'd really choose Commander Sisko of Deep Space Nine, who, although awfully busy with the running of the station and various missions on the Defiant, was a committed and attentive father, who nurtured his son's budding journalism career and genuinely cared about the other people he worked with as well.
retsuko: (reading is sexy!)
Before I begin, a short note to Entertainment Weekly:

Dear EW, Just because I have not seen Season 4 of Dexter yet does not mean I am a "slowpoke". I do not subscribe to premium cable channels, and the DVDs will not be released until Tuesday. By definition, I cannot be a slowpoke if there is nothing to race to. So, spoiling the end of the season in your magazine and calling me a slowpoke for not knowing? Not cool. It's just good that I can save [ profile] yebisu9 from the same spoilers by virtue of having read the magazine first.

Given your history with spoilers (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was not improved by knowing that a certain character had an expiration date stamped on his forehead) and the general decline of the writing in your magazine, this will be the last time I buy. Have a happy life of corporate shilling!

No love,


On to cheerier things! In books, recently:

Dear Irene, by Jan Burke: This was a very readable mystery with a mostly likable heroine and a compelling plot. Irene Kelly is a crime writer at a Southern California newspaper who is in the midst of recovering from her last adventure, dealing with difficult family members who are shocked (shocked!) that she and her detective fiance have yet to set a date for their wedding, and getting letters and calls from a new serial killer. The killer, whose plots and death traps all center around Greek mythology and references thereto, is actually quite a frightening presence, to the point where I wonder if the writer started to scare herself a bit. (The death traps, which start off in the Saw torture pattern, quickly get scaled back to less scary things: Victim #3 didn't actually starve to death; she was poisoned beforehand and the body posed ironically, etc. etc.) My only point of confusion was why the killer felt it necessary to include Irene as part of his twisted scheme, other than general plot device and typical serial killer Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (As I read this, I was reminded of the comic strip Doctor Blink, Superhero Shrink, in particular an episode in which Dr. Blink complains to his secretary that the hardest part of his job is helping villains avoid their compulsion to tell others about their nefarious plans in riddle format.) Still, a fast-paced read, and with the strong lead character, I may just have to pick the other books in this series up.

In movies:

The Other Guys: This was so stupid and so completely entertaining. And I finally understood why people think Will Ferrell is funny! (It also helped that I didn't want to kill his character 5 minutes after he appeared on screen.) Mark Wahlberg isn't bad, either, although he's playing the straight guy to the funny guy, and barely cracks a smile the whole time. The funniest thing in the entire movie is the musical parody segments, which are not nearly long enough. Will Ferrell leading a bar full of drunken patrons in crazy parodies of drinking songs, with a perfectly straight face, has great timing and plays it so seriously that I thought he was going into a trance of some kind. All I could do was dissolve into helpless giggling. :D
retsuko: (plothole?)
As a reward to myself for getting the taxes mailed off, I stopped into Starbucks for an iced mocha and the latest Entertainment Weekly, which happened to be the summer movie preview. Huzzah, I thought, so many movies I want to see, listed in a convenient month-by-month manner! The first write-up is for the new Angelina Jolie spy thriller, Salt, which I had seen a few previews for and was looking forward to... until I read the article.

Long, overdone paragraphs made short: the role was written for a man, but switched to a woman! From the tone of the write-up, you'd think this is the most revolutionary thing EVER done. But, wait! There's more that had to be changed!

"But the process was trickier than just changing the hero's name and adding high heels."

Seriously: this character is on the run from the cops and federal agents, accused of being a double agent for the Russians, and you're worried about her heels? What will it take for writers to realize that when a character's running from something, there's absolutely no way she'd get very far if she's wearing heels?

But, wait! There's more stupid to come!

"'In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt saves his wife, who's in danger.' says [director Phillip] Noyce. 'And what we found was when Evelyn Salt saved her husband in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little...' In the end, Salt's husband... was made tough enough that he didn't need saving, thank you very much."

HORRORS: A MAN NEEDED SAVING. It's 2010, people: a man can stand to be rescued by his kick-ass superhero wife and not be worried about the state of his testicular fortitude. And, conversely, what they're saying is that had the character stayed male, the poor woman-wife would have still been in peril and needed saving. What about making her tough enough that she didn't need saving, thank you very much? This sort of thing makes me so mad: why are we still falling into traditional gender roles even as we make progress in subverting them? Is it because writers think audiences will be so intimidated by a strong female protagonist that their brains will explode if there's not a strong enough male figure to "balance" her out? That's bullshit, plain and simple. We've been presented with unequivocal strong male protagonists over and over again for years, but cultural mores have obviously progressed and changed. When we will get to see a movie where the heroine saves the hero, without needing any additional male help, and without hand-wringing over the state of the poor rescued man's state of mind?

So, in sum, my enthusiasm for Salt has considerably diminished. Maybe I'll watch art house movies all summer long instead.
retsuko: (comic book nerd)
In Manga:

Ouran Host Club, V. 13, Pencils and Words by Hatori Bisco: What, is this story suddenly taking a serious turn? Is Tamaki's silliness actually masking a deep psychological wound? Of course! And, I have to say: FINALLY. I had gotten very, very weary of the storyline between Hikaru and Kaoru, and it's nice that the meta-narrative has become the governing plot line again. Everyone's sort of back to their respective selves. Haruhi's realization of her feelings for Tamaki is one of the funniest things I've read in this manga, and her eventual turn to shojo manga to tell her what to do is a highly entertaining comic sequence. Hatori seems to be taking a holiday from the "i am a published artist/writer who can't draw/write" comments, which makes me unspeakably happy.


Leverage, Season 1: So much fun, although there have been times when the writers, hampered by the 42 minute limit on the episode, liberally fudge the details to cram the main plot into the time alloted, with logic being the victim. And that's OK, for the most part--the fun of these criminal capers isn't the logic (although it's great to see the characters working from behind the scenes when logic and time are on their side), it's the complicated heists, grifts, scams, and plots that our heroes/heroines manage to pull off. Also wonderful fun is the character interaction between the five leads--the awkward, slowly growing romance between cat burglar Parker and tech wizard Hardison (so spoilers, please, we're just starting Season 2), the banter from hitman Eliot (ably played by Christian Kane, a.k.a. Lindsay from "Angel"--and in one memorable episode from the first season, we get a whole Whedon reunion with Jonathan and Holland Manners), and the will-they-won't-they tension between grifter Sophie and lead man/troubled alcoholic Nathan. Nate's alcoholism skirts the border of seeming plot devicelike in a few episodes, but for the most part, he's believable and sympathetic. The heists themselves are full of double- and triple-crosses; the villains are truly evil people who deserve what's coming to them. [ profile] yebisu9 and I are very much looking forward to continuing this.

The question for me naturally becomes, then, which is better, Leverage or Hustle? Hustle isn't hampered by the shorter running time and the annoying commercial pauses, which sometimes break up the flow of the narrative; it also has more visual style, feels more slick and polished. Leverage has a more personal twist, though, since the show is pitched a little more like a modern-day Robin Hood story. I think a fanfic crossover would really hit the spot. :D

In Magazines:

Wild Fibers: My recent interest in spinning caused me to pick up this ultra-niche magazine at the specialty magazine store in Hillcrest. There's some wonderful photography in it, both of the fibers each story focuses on, and the people and places the stories are about. I had no idea that a craft magazine would need to send its reporters to Africa, Scotland, Mongolia, and Thailand in a single issue. With such specific topics, though, I wonder how this particular title is managing to stay afloat in a recession. I suspect that the bent of at least two of the articles reveals why: white woman travels to impoverished, third world country, attempts to help the natives. (To be fair, in one case, this was years ago and the effects on the country's economy were largely very good, and in the other case, the woman in question does appear to not have a messiah complex, just genuine concern.) So my general feeling is that this magazine is bought by rich white woman, largely in the midwest and northwestern states, who have a lot of time on their hands and are generally leftist in their politics. Reading this hasn't diminished my interested in spinning at all, and I am mostly disappointed that there aren't any specialty spinning stores nearby. I will definitely attempt to do this for myself sometime this spring.

A bonus: The portraits of camels, sheep, and goats in this are top-notch.

May 2016

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