Divergent: I watched this trailer and I said, "I remember that someone on my reading list posted about how silly and implausible this YA dystopia is." And lo, it was so.
I, Frankenstein: the idea of Frankenstein's monster as incredibly long-lived and basically a superhero is actually pretty great, but I doubt this is the movie to do it justice.
Endless Love: it caught my attention for putting ominous music behind sappy meet-cute romance, but the hints about the reveal didn't seem very interesting. (However, IMDB says it's a remake of a Brooke Shields movie, which does get genuinely dark, so perhaps that music is earned even if the trailer's contents don't convey it.)
American Hustle: this trailer is much less off-putting than the first one I saw, though still not my kind of thing.
Maleficent: it's remarkable the way they managed to make this live-action Sleeping Beauty look like a cartoon.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: I'm not sure if this is the version I saw before Gravity, but it's still just wrong.
I am almost dizzy with fatigue but there's no way I can sleep right now so I will FEELINGSDUMP all over you all. Spoilers for both movies and vague spoilers for all the books, which I haven't read but which I've read people's posts about.
( SPOILERS )
Trailers tomorrow. Those are quick, at least.
Edit: sorry, I hit the cap on calling cards; if you can't accept one I sent you, maybe send to the people in comments here?
(Also, those of you familiar with Seeking Mr Eaten's Name, someone actually sent him a calling card, the results of which are kind of amazing already (with more to come).)
The Logic of Stupid Poor People: blog post that's been getting a lot of traction about the vital necessity of signalling "not like them" for women and/or people of color to gatekeepers.
( tiny personal anecdote )
(You guys know how to count back change, right? You count up to the smallest amount it takes to make something ending with a 5 or 0, and then do the same for whatever it takes to make the next useful increment, and so forth. Someone gives you $40 for a $27 charge: "okay, 28, 29, 30 [counting out $1 bills as you go]; and ten makes forty." Sure, you can also subtract in your head, but this is more likely to be followed and agreed-upon by your customer, too.)
Proto-Spam: Spanish Prisoners and Confidence Games: a history of the Spanish Prisoner scheme, which lives on today in the Nigerian letter spam. Includes how mass-production (i.e., the typewriter) affected the quality of the scam letters.
Via Captain Awkward on Predator Prevention, a stunning essay titled I Met A Convicted Serial Killer, and He Made Me Feel More Loved Than Anyone Else In My Life.
Steve Rogers is politically progressive, whether in the MCU or 616.
Pictures of the Rube Goldberg contraption in Elementary's opening titles (also, I cannot find the comparison now, but the bust that gets smashed and (S1 ending spoiler) have the same haircut).
I never noticed this, but apparently NYC subway drivers are required to point at particular signs in stations? Some people decided to liven things up with their own signs. I liked some better than others, but it's only a 90-second video.
Somehow I didn't follow links about Noor Inayat Khan back when Code Name Verity was released and the author was citing her as a historical inspiration: "As an [Allied Special Operations Executive] agent during the Second World War, she became the first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance." (Spoiler for history: not a happy ending.)
( spoilers )
And now I have to disconnect my keyboard and see why the "b" key is sticking down (I have made it through this post by banging the keyboard down after every time I typed it to make up pop up again).
( embedded trailer, spoilers )
Finally, today when I was leaving work I saw someone with a very nice spare-tire cover that looked like Steve's shield. If I hadn't been driving I would have waved my keychain at them in solidarity.
Perhaps so much emphasis on the last two warped my expectations, but I didn't think it was that bad? Yes, there is a particularly nonsensical bit of dialogue where Clooney's character draws out Bullock's character's backstory, which he unquestionably should have known beforehand (and if he had, that particular point was emphatically not the time to bring it up). But I thought Bullock was fine, she kept me right there with her in the story.
(There's a point . . . maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through? . . . where the movie skates on the edge of disaster. To me, it does recover, but just by the skin of its teeth. That is wholly the script's responsibility, though.)
Yes, the visuals are stunning. (This article about the special effects is annoyingly split up over several pages, but it does bring together information from a bunch of different sources.) I did see it in IMAX 3D and it did not make me sick (unlike, say, the last two of the Matt Damon Bourne movies), and most of the time it struck me as fairly unobtrusive, though the occasional coming-right-toward-you! moments made me roll my eyes a bit. I am vastly unlikely to see anything else in 3D, though, since the trailer for this December's Hobbit was hideously artificial looking.
Two last thoughts: Ed Harris is the voice of Mission Control. Why don't I have Apollo 13 on disc, and more importantly, why isn't the book Apollo 13 available electronically? And now I have even more feelings about visiting one of the space shuttles last month. *sniff*
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: I have read the early Jack Ryan books. This feels nothing whatsoever like them. (Say what you will about what Ryan turned into, when he started he wasn't young and he wasn't fundamentally an action hero or a spy—he has his action hero moments, but at base he's an analyst.) Also, even though I have never seen a movie with Chris Pine, I still instinctively want to punch his face every time I see it.
47 Ronin: Really? Keanu Reeves is the destined hero of a fantasy-Asia because he's a half-breed? REALLY?
Thor: The Dark World: I will require spoilers assuring me that none of the women are fridged before I attempt to make time to see it.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: I had this down in my notes as "Stiller midlife crisis (magic realism?)", before the title reveal. Then I looked up summaries of the story, and I am fairly sure that the movie has comprehensively failed to understand it.
Ender's Game: even if I didn't want to NOT support Orson Scott Card, this entirely fails to give me a Battle School vibe, which is the thing that makes the book interesting.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: a.k.a., LotR: Some More Prequel-ish Stuff via Peter Jackson's Id.
Back when the news that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman broke, I said elsewhere,
The thing is, I don't really care about casting for Batman because Batman is fundamentally a boring character. All he is, is a vehicle for manpain and an opportunity for more interesting people to aggregate around him. (Usually people who deserve a better protagonist.)
Superman's boring too. So there.
*drops mic, walks offstage*
Know anyone starting law school or thinking about it? Recommend to them A Student's Guide to Law School, freshly-published and written by a co-worker and one of the smarter people and better attorneys I know (and I know a lot of smart people and good attorneys).
A writer at the A.V. Club is dismayed to revisit the first Xanth book (because it may not be obvious if you're not familiar with Piers Anthony's work: trigger warning for discussions of pedophilia):
Here’s how this article was supposed to go down: As a kid, I lived in Florida. Back then I loved the books of Piers Anthony . . . . For this installment of Memory Wipe, I was going to reread A Spell For Chameleon . . . . Then, in poignant prose, I would revisit the magic of my own Floridian childhood, even though that childhood was actually pretty fucked up, but maybe not quite as fucked up as it seemed at the time. The big takeaway: Thanks, Piers Anthony, for the swell book, not mention giving me a tidy epiphany about how fantasy, geography, and nostalgia overlap in the hazy mists of reminiscence.
Instead, this happened: I reread A Spell For Chameleon, and during those excruciating hours all I could think about was what a sad, misogynistic piece of shit it is.
It seems like realizing the awfulness of Piers Anthony is a rite of passage among people who read SFF when young, so I offer it to you all for the sympathetic wince/cathartic rant factor.
Also because of this:
Ultimately, Anthony is the worst kind of misogynist: one who defends his offensive views by saying, in essence, how could he possibly hate women if he’s drooling over them all the time?
I'm not convinced that that's the "worst" kind, but it is a particularly infuriating kind, and it strikes me as relevant to sexual harassment. And that is on my mind because of recent revelations of sexual harassment by Bora Zivkovic, a very prominent man in the science blogging community (context). The most recent report (with links back to others) is by Kathleen Raven. Among other things, this prompted a massive Twitter conversation of people sharing personal tales of self-doubt caused by even much milder forms of harassment (on Storify, or try #ripplesofdoubt if you hate Storify for long things the way I do). Difficult stuff, but worth reading if consistent with your well-being.
(To be clear: Bora is not, at present, using this defense, though I am morally certain that someone somewhere has offered it on his behalf. Reading these links in the same day merely made an association that seemed a useful transition.)
Fallen London players, follow this link for a tiny gift from a Rubbery Man (one not generally available since 2010, can you believe this game has been around that long?), and check out your Lodgings for some seasonal content.
I think about unfollowing Elementary's writers on Twitter every Thursday, when they live-tweet the show that I don't have time to watch. But it doesn't seem worth the effort, and they do things like last week's "feud" with the writers of Sleepy Hollow, which was adorable and hilarious. And then this afternoon they started in with the knock-knock jokes and I gave up and followed @sleepywriters too just so I didn't miss anything . . .
(I have not seen Sleepy Hollow; I appreciate the comparisons everyone's making between it and Elementary regarding the dynamics of the lead pairs, but I've given up trying to watch anything but Elementary and Face Off, and I'm also a little dubious about the mythological elements that abigail_n points out. As for SHIELD and Korra, I'm letting those scroll off the DVR, and if someone tells me they get to be worth watching, I will pick them up from that point.)
A Dark Room is a really neat minimalist web game about discovery and exploration. I hesitate to say too much about it because of those themes, but it's not too long or demanding and has a definite end, and the minimalism works very well for it. (You should run it in a browser tab that can stay open while you're away from your computer.)
ETA: now some spoilers in comments.
ETA 2013-08: apparently there are some content differences in the iOS app which sound very much not my thing.
‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin, a fascinating article at the Washington Post about the racism embedded in the very "technology and grammar of cinema and photography."
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