Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Gloriously awful

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Melle, Melissa and I went to see Legion this afternoon. Hot damn, that was fun.

Spoilers.

Though I think we were the only ones guffawing outright. So many bad moments that hurt so good. The trailer is a bit misleading, in that it’s not ALL angels that come to earth in a battle royal in “Paradise Falls” (not so much with the subtle) – just Michael (mmmm. Paul Bettany) and Gabriel. There was almost a scene of hawt gay angels, but it didn’t materialize. I think probably there would have been protests.

Anyway, as you know from the trailer. Young girl with baby who is the man who will save the world. God is fed up with the bullshit on earth and tells the angels to kill the child. Michael disobeys because he still loves humanity. Zombies arrive, all hell breaks loose, and lots of people got shot and blown up.

The funny thing is that even with the melodrama and weird hilo mix, Bettany somehow delivers some gravitas in his portrayal of the “fallen” angel. The FX for the angel warrior suits was pretty good too. However, total ripoff in that we never actually get to see the topless Michael shown in the movie posters – FAIL.

If you want apocalypse entertainment, this is a good one. And not nearly as bad as 2012…

Epitaphed

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Spoilers about the Dollhouse finale, so you’ve been warned.

The last ep of DollhouseEpitaph 2: The Return. There were some wonderful moments, and some really awful dialogue, and wtf? a “happy” ending?

The pilgrimage of Topher was done well, except for the “Hi I’m crazy” ramblings when Paul first finds him again in Neuropolis tortured by Harding (who’s in a rather more corpulent body this time) to work the tech and watch one person die per day until he’s done. Yeah. That would make someone crazy, but the dialogue seemed just so… white label. However, from there, Fran Kranz excels in showing both the vulnerability of a child and a remnant of the overriding ego which led him to develop tech for the sheer thrill of being able to do it (only this time, it ends up being for the good). And Adelle, his mother, is returned to him and the moments between the two achieve a real poignancy. Olivia Williams delivers the most nuanced character of the show, and her character’s story arc will probably gain recognition as the megabytes of analysis and mourning pour out into the Interwebs today.

No so real on the poignancy is our gal Echo. We’ve all said for a while that the show is Dushko’s but that her acting is, perhaps, its weakest link. I will blame part of the schlock on the writing, but her scenes with Ballard/Penniket were cardboard at best. The tantrum with Priya had lots of emotion, so then I was thinking “better”, but then came the ending – her last time in the chair where she is reunited in her own head with the guy that she supposedly loved for 10 years but “never let him in”. Okay. A) please, hit us over the head with the dialogue, and B) ew, and C) the only freakin’ thing that was missing in that scene was sparkles.

Echo/Dushko did much better in the Mad Max and violence parts. I thought they did a great job of visually presenting the brainpocalypse landscape and the rig was badass. I also loved her interactions with Wash Alpha, who has achieved zen in the intervening years and was actually running the dollhouse again. Must be that he uploaded Paul… It was awesome to see Tudyk back again – he did more in a few little scenes than some of the characters were able to accomplish across several eps.

We find out why Priya and Tony aren’t together anymore. And I thought the twist on the tech (Tony’s group plugs in tech with USB drives called “Weapons Expert” or “Mercy” via borg implant on their heads) was whimsical and true to the cyberpunk aesthetic at the same time. So disappointed that we didn’t get any more Topher 2.0, but I think we can all agree that one thing Dollhouse will be remembered for is bringing us Enver Gjokaj. The Priya/Tony storyline also went a bit movie of the week, which was unfortunate.

2 seasons. Some truly awful episodes (we shall never see “backup singer” again), some amazing Jossverse guests (Tudyk, Acker, Denisof, Glau), some great lines (especially for Topher), some really horrible dialogue, some wonderful acting (Gjokaj, Williams, Kranz) and some terrible acting (unfortunately, Dushku). It was some Jossiness on the screen, and so of course it was worth watching.

Appreciation

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Appreciation occurs when it’s -30 outside and you are inside, by the fireplace.

With scotch.

An assumption too far, Mr Harper

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Melle, Melissa and I attended the “No Prorogue” rally (also known as “Stephen Harper is an Arsehole Gathering”) at Waterloo Public Square today. It was a respectable turnout for Waterloo – at least 300 at any one time. Chairs were left in the speaker area for all of the local Conservative parliamentarians but not deigned to take up the offer.

The best speaker of the day was actually a university student–Jennifer (Ed. note: another blogger is saying that Jennifer is 12; if so, I am very impressed), with politicians of various other stripes (Liberal, NDP, Green, Christian something or other and Independent) doing a greater or lesser job depending on their ability to stay on topic. We struggled a bit to see how proroguing parliament was linked to RIM losing out on the Nortel bid, wondered if “transphobia” had anything to do with vamPYRES, and were slightly bemused by the Independent’s long list of woes from taxes to something about Pierre Trudeau being an asshat.

All and still, it was a very Canadian protest. By that I mean the crowd was young and old, families and urban singles. People moved through the crowd saying “excuse me”. The police presence consisted of two constables in a cruiser around the corner having a coffee. People were skating during the speeches. Posters were, for the most part, either witty or benignly straight forward. Point being that it was calm, orderly and quietly strong in conviction – and we are damned lucky to have the luxury for it to be so.

Some of the loudest applause came at a Mercer quote (“Canadians are apathetic until you tell them they are apathetic”) at any mention of Harper being arrogant, calls for parliament to go back to work, and proportional government. Even the heckler at the back agreed with that one.

As one speaker put it (the Green guy, I think), quoting Churchill:

Canada is a solution looking for a problem… and I think we found the problem.

I might add, don’t forget that next time you vote.

I will poke it with a stick

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/02/goualougo/goualougo-animation/curious-chimp/

Pome gem

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Just read The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. If you’ve ever wondered what the hell your high school/university teacher was talking about with the trochaic pentameter or enjambment, this delightful novel will answer that and also tell you a bit about poets and poetry.

Only it’s not a dry piece nor a pompous oration – the storytelling is great and the learning is (mostly) incidental. Plus there’s an awesome poke at the only recording we have of Tennyson reading his “Light Brigade” poem – I snorted.

Made me love poetry again and want to go read some, and that doesn’t happen every day.

This is a picture I did not take…

Friday, January 15th, 2010

of a murder of crows, several hundred in number, squawking and flying in circles against a metal gray sky.

It was ominous.

And the books

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Originally posted January 1, 2010

I’m not even gonna try to order these, and the selection process was excruciating, and ask me tomorrow and I may have a different answer, but here are some of the books that rocked my world published in the last 10 years. Some authors outdid themselves with several entries, so I put them together.

  • Rush Home Road (2002) Lori Lansens. Honourable mention to The Girls (2005)
  • The Dominion of Wyley McFadden (2001) Scott Gardiner. Honourable mention to King John of Canada (2007).
  • Dead Girls (2003) Nancy Lee.
  • American Gods (2001) Neil Gaiman.
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife (2003) Audrey Niffenegger.
  • The Road (2005) Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Minor Planet For You: And Other Stories (2006) Leslie Greentree.
  • The View From the Seventh Layer (2008) Kevin Brockmeier.
  • Angel: After the Fall (2008-9) IDW Publishing.
  • Alva and Irva (2004) Edward Carey.
  • The Jen Casey Triology: Hammered, Scardown and Worldwired (2005) Elizabeth Bear.
  • Resurrection Men (2004) Ian Rankin.
  • Oryx and Crake (2004) Margaret Atwood.
  • Under the Skin (2000) Michel Faber.
  • The Thursday Next Series: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten and First Among Sequels (2001-07) Jasper Fforde.
  • Magical Thinking: True Stories (2004), Possible Side Effects (2006), Running With Scissors: A Memoir (2002), Dry (2002) Augusten Burroughs.
  • Fierce (2008) Hannah Holborn.
  • Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates (2000), Villa Incognito (2003) Tom Robbins.

===
Honourable Mentions

  • My Abandonment (2008) Peter Rock.
  • The Lovely Bones (2002) Alice Sebold.
  • The World Without Us (2007) Alan Weisman.
  • Lullabies for Little Criminals (2006) Heather O’Neill.
  • Fight Club (2005) Chuck Palahniuk.
  • Spook Country (2007) William Gibson.
  • The Corrections (2001) Jonathan Franzen.
  • Anathem (2008) Neal Stephenson.

Top 10 on the tv

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Originally posted December 28, 2009

TV shows are a bit easier to rate. I’m going to combine “real programming” with fiction. Numbers 6-2 are kind of interchangeable, as I love these ones pretty equally.

10. First season of Veronica Mars. The others were okay, but the first season was consistently good in terms of snark, mystery, romance and dysfunction. And I love it when you make me root for the asshole. Best ep: “Hot Dogs” – we start to see Logan through different eyes, Aaron Echolls goes after his daughter’s abusive boyfriend, and Weevil is further implicated in Lily’s murder.

9. The Daily Show/Rick Mercer Report. Like old-time American-Canadian cousins, Jon Stewart & Rick Mercer have done more for political awareness in either country than any news program every could. Both play the everyman, the buffoon and the astute correspondent in equal measures. Love.

8. The Office (UK version). Some of the most uncomfortable television I’ve ever watched. While it sometimes invoked PTSD from my corporate life, it is a great example of why the Brits are better than us (often) when it comes to playing it straight. Best ep: The Christmas Special.

7. Mythbusters. Adam and Jamie made geeks famous and introduced the scientific method to a whole new generation. It’s still not old for me yet.

6. Location, Location, Location. For a real estate pR0n addict like me, this show is the bomb. Kirstie and Phil are never coy, and their tours through houses across the UK (and beyond) is always enjoyable. I watch the eps over and over again.

5. Torchwood – “Children of Earth”. So this is kind of cheaty because I’m picking on one specific mini-series, but the calibre of writing for this arc was unbelievable. Particularly in how the politicians deal with the impending catastrophe and moral dilemmas of offering up the children. Really great television. And if that’s the end of the series, then we can’t ask for more than that.

4. BSG. I know this one will show up higher on someone else’s list, but my criteria included how willing I was to move or cancel plans so as to not miss the show in its first showing, and I was willing most of the time to watch this one as a download. BSG was a game changer. Loved its darkness, its moral ambiguity, its characters and ability to leave me gasping. Best ep: “33? – the fleet has to jump every 33 minutes to stay ahead of the Cylons. If I had a heart rate monitor during this ep, it would have been spiking.

3. True Blood. Ball has taken the books and turned something of a girlie drink into a freaky shot of post-sex scotch. The best news? This one isn’t done yet–can’t wait until June. Best ep: “I Will Rise Up” – Eric saves Sookie and then uses it to his advantage for some pretty hot mouth-to-wounds, and Godric becomes a saviour.

2. Buffy. For changing the game. For big stories on the little screen. For OMWF. For bringing us some of the best characters ever on television. I know it started in 1997, but its last seasons were in this decade, so it counts. Best ep: “Becoming” I and II (kinda cheaty) – we were so invested in the characters by the end of season 2, and the whole drama of her battle with Angel (one little word… “Me.”) and ultimately, her decision to sacrifice her love for the world. Wow. Just wow.

1. Firefly. I watched it during first run and loved it even though the eps were shown out of order. My level of pissed-off-edness increases every time I watch it. Fox will never be able to make this up, and saving Dollhouse for an extra year is not payment enough. Of all things Joss, this show was the optimum of ensemble casting, wit, charm and challenge.  Best ep: “Out of Gas” – wherein we learn of origins and love and the complex hero that is Mal. Absolutely fabulous.

There are also some honourable mentions, like Angel (should be in the top 10 but I ran out of room), West Wing (when it was good, it was riveting and when it was bad, it was preachy), Dirty Jobs (Mike Rowe somehow manages to be condescending and humble at the same time, and some of those jobs are awesomely gruesome), Fear Factor (the original omg! show – especially the stuff they had to eat), Six Feet Under (wonderful combination of dark comedy and darker family), Intervention (some of the most riveting television there is – some call it exploitive, but there seems to be a lesson in every show), and Dr Who (really close to Top 10, but there’s as many blah episodes as there are good ones).

Tops – movies first

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Originally posted December 27, 2009

All the peoples are doing their Top 10 (movies, tv shows, books…). I’m gonna guess I’ve seen only 30 movies in 10 years, but I’ve watched some horrible number of hours of television and read roughly 2000 books.

Movies first, but only 5.  (I’m least qualified for this one)

5. Star Trek: Wherein Chris Pine became hawt, and I was thoroughly entertained despite Spock prime and one too many scenes of Kirk hanging by his fingers over a precipice.

4. Slumdog Millionaire: I read the book when it first came out, and the movie was a pretty good interpretation. Plus, I love some Bollywood.

3. Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring: My favourite one of the trilogy. Jackson somehow stayed true to the book while giving us the effects and modern sensibility that we need to have it be relevant in the 00’s.

2. District 9: Non-hollywood, awesome story, and lots of room for discussion.

1. Serenity: Top 10 all time and recommended annual pleasure viewing. You can’t call yourself a sci-fi fan and not watch this and love it. I daresay (and will say) Firefly/Serenity was Joss’ best work.