What’s On My Bookshelf? Master and Commander: Far Side of the World

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua FractalA Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World

One of the rare non-genre works that I own (and like), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (MCTFSotW) is one of those movies that has the rare combination of detail and action combined with history that make it a compelling movie to watch for me.  I’m a history major, but what I find with most history movies is that they tend not to dramatize the action in a manner that I find compelling, preferring to let the exoticness of the setting and time-period to stand in for action and having the characters respond in a manner that “talks” the film’s central problem to death.  Not so with MCTFSotW.  While there is a fair shade of period specific dialogue, it doesn’t seek to resolve the film’s central question via dialogue, but rather through action, which is probably why I like it.

A Captain for All Seasons

This one is realistic not just for the action and ship to ship battles and games of cat and mouse, but also because of the characters.  The friendship between the captain and the doctor is realistically depicted.  Both are clearly friends, but the captain’s duty and his friends personal interests pull them in different directions and they find themselves at odds when duty and interests conflict.  There is even a compelling subplot involving a junior officer no one likes and his conflict with the hands on the ship.  This is the way that I wish most period pieces were handled.  Sadly, this one is the exception to the rule.  The movie version of Last of the Mohicans is probably the closest analogy to this movie.  If you like that movie, then you’ll probably like this one as well, although, to be clear, that one also had a strong romantic subplot between the women and men in the story that many latched on to and made it a must see for them, but this one is purely action and platonic friendship between the captain and the doctor.

Book to Film to  . . . ?

I haven’t really followed the financial success of this film, but gauging that there hasn’t been any follow-up movies, I would have to assume that it did not do as well as the filmmakers’ hoped.  As a librarian, I know this is based off of a series books by Patrick O’Brien (I shelved them enough times, even though I never got a chance to read them) and I figured that this would be start of a series of movies based on how good I thought it was, but alas, it wasn’t to be, I guess.  To be honest, with all of the interest of turning movies/book series into TV series, I fairly surprised that this hasn’t been found someone wanting to take on this property.  I remember that it has a fair number of books in the series.  While not nearly as enormous as Game of Thrones books, I sure that a strong “show runner” could get a BBC length season (10-12 episodes out of each book).  The special effects budget could be impractical, however, as the sea scenes would probably all have to be done with CGI which could get expensive quickly.  Still, it seems like a fairly good fit for today’s current crop of shows on streaming.

Well, that’s all I have for today–have a good day!  🙂

Sidney




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So, I, Robot is a “bad” movie? What Gives?

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2428 (+71)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I managed to add 71 words yesterday, well below my 250 word goal.  In my defense, I only had about 40 minutes in-between assignments, but I probably could have gotten it done, but I had to eat dinner, and eating ribs and typing on a computer keyboard is a recipe for disaster.  I also had time on my breaks, but chose not to work on it.  Instead I skimmed YouTube for most of break time.  Today, I’m going to make a concerted effort to use my break times for writing and save YouTube for the weekend.  We’ll see tomorrow if I make it happen.

I, Robot = “bad”?

So, towards the end of the day at the Writing Center, a discussion emerged about the concept of Artificial Intelligence in video games and movies, and I brought up I, Robot as an example.  Now, I know I, Robot isn’t regarded fondly in the Sci-Fi community, but I was surprised to hear a MA (Master’s level) student pull a “Freshman Fiat.”  This is my term for when a freshman (or any other beginning level student) pronounces that something is “fact” and then provides no evidence for this pronouncement.  He categorically stated that I, Robot was a “bad” movie, but without giving any shred of evidence (such as characterization, plotting, setting, tone, etc) to back up his statement and I was supposed to just agree because that is the general consensus.

But I don’t agree.

Not only do I not agree, but as a student learning more and more about Afrofuturism, I would argue that the general consensus has less to do with the movie’s quality in terms of story construction than it does with the appearance of the hero and the formation of the hero’s identity.

But Looper = “good”?

As a counterpoint to the I, Robot narrative, I would offer the (as evidence, which the other participant in the debate never gave, I must repeatedly emphasize), the movie Looper.  Looper is a time travel story, one which (minor spoilers–skip down if you want to know nothing about the plot) sets the protagonist against an older version of himself.

Looper was hailed as a “great” movie and was critically acclaimed.  It also made its director Rian Johnson a powerhouse in the Sci-Fi movie community (which ultimately lead to The Last Jedi and the splintering of the Star Wars fandom).  However, I found Looper (and The Last Jedi to a lesser degree) to be one of the least inventive, least original, and a movie so lacking in character motivation that it made the main character seem flat and uninteresting.  And yet, this movie is hailed as what we should aspire to in Science Fiction filmmaking, while I, Robot, which tries to explore the idea what a soul is and where does it reside, and can it reside in a machine created by man (i.e, first explored by “high” literature such as Frankenstein, and explored in many different movies, including the highly successful Terminator films).

What Makes It So?

I would challenge viewers to watch (or rewatch) each film and focus on the protagonists–the main characters.  I would also encourage viewers to take a moment to look at the way each character is defined and acts within the context of his respective movie.  Although one is a darker shade in terms of skin tone and borrows from his cultural heritage, I would argue that it is Looper’s protagonist who acts in a more stereotypical way.  The protagonist in Looper doesn’t emote (characteristic of the “strong, silent” type), his actor has the classic “Hollywood” face (“square-jawed”), and the character acts out of a misplaced sense of “love” (the character himself isn’t faced with any overriding conviction), whereas the protagonist of I, Robot hates the robots in his world as a way of displacing his own “self-hate” at the way his circumstances turned out.

I would argue that I, Robot challenges the stereotypical narrative far more than Looper does, but that the casting of the protagonist in Looper conforms more to the expectations of the viewers and thus, allows Looper benefit from a story that is far less engaging and far less revolutionary than the story that I, Robot tells.

If you happen to disagree, that’s perfectly valid.  I just wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the reasons why I think that I, Robot gets a bad “rap.”  At least, there’s no “Freshman Fiat” to deal with here–you have points that you can refute if you disagree.

And that was ultimately the point of today’s post: a little more reason and a little less fiat.  Thanks for reading!

Sidney




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Updated Marvel Universe Movies

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This is a super short post to let you know that I’ve updated my Ranking of Marvel Movies post with the addition of Thor Ragnarok. 

Sidney




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Thor Ragnarok: Mini-Review (No Spoilers)

Nope, no writing done over the 3 day weekend.  Tragic.  This is what I’ve got to get better at as a writer who wants to be “professional.”  Yes, I had another real-world “project” that I was working on (changing rooms in my house), but it doesn’t take that long to do 250 words.  I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of setting up the computer for just 20-30 mins of writing–but the cost to that was, no writing done at all.  250 * 6 days = 1,500 words.  I one week, I could, if I could get my act together, essentially finish a “section” of a short story, or the basic “outline” of a chapter.  So the word I used above is actually something I need to tell myself when I don’t get my 250 words in–tragic.

Finally Saw Thor Ragnarok

Okay, so over the Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S., my family and I gathered together after the holiday dinner to watch Thor Ragnarok.  I have to say upfront that it was a fun experience–it isn’t the best Marvel movie that I ever seen, but it also isn’t the worst.  I guess that’s what, after having a night to sleep on it, I would say–it was a solidly fun experience.  Unlike Star Wars, which at the moment that I write this, is having a “moment” (and not in a good way as Kathleen Kennedy seems determined to remake the brand into something that she wants and not something that the fans want), Marvel movies know what they’re audiences want: quite a bit of action, some humor (quips and some physical comedy), characters having to some (light) soul-searching, an inventive and eventful ending, and (a bit) of moral relevance (theme) and they’re golden.  This is what Thor Ragnarok delivers to its audience.  Is it flashy, like say Civil War or Winter Soldier? No.  But is it good?  Yes, yes it is.

God of Humor

So, the comedic elements in this one are super strong.  Whether they be visual gags, banter and quips, or downright physical humors, a lot (but not all) of Thor Ragnarok is played for laughs.  I happened to have liked that, but if you’re looking for (or liked) the grim seriousness of Thor The Dark World, then you’ll need to look elsewhere because they play this strictly as an action-comedy.  When there’s action, there’s a lot of it, but when there’s no action on the screen, they’re either setting up a joke or actually paying off a joke.  There’s very little else here, although to be fair, there is quite a bit of light character development of ThorLokiHulk/Banner, and the new character, the Valkyrie, whose name wasn’t really used all that often in the movie, but who both Thor & Loki recognized as a Valkyrie, so that’s (at the moment) how I remembered her character.

Not the Worst, but Not the Best

Again, I have to say that I really liked this movie quite a bit, but based on the high praise that it was given by some of the reviews when it released, I’m a little surprised that it wasn’t a stronger movie.  I suppose when you get right down to it, this may have to do more with me and my expectations than the movie itself.  While I like comedies and like to laugh (who doesn’t), my favorite genre is action.  While there’s no denying that Thor Ragnarok does have action set-pieces, for the most part, this one lent itself to comedy (think the comedy sketch of Thor sitting out Civil War that made the rounds on YouTube last summer, and you’ll have an idea of what the creators of Thor Ragnarok were going for).

Having just re-watched this vignette, I just realized that they referenced the “email” joke in this vignette in Thor Ragnarok, so this is very much a “tone-piece” for the movie.  If you like this vignette, then you’ll probably like Thor Ragnarok very much.  I was mildly amused by this, so while I really liked the movie, it probably won’t make it into my Top 5 Marvel movies.  Not to say it isn’t good, but I feel there are other Marvel movies that are stronger.

Overall Grade: B (Above Average)

My take: Hey, it’s a Marvel movie.  They’d have to really misfire (Thor Dark World) to get much less (Marvel gets me as a fan in a way that Kathleen Kennedy and the “new” Star Wars doesn’t seem to anymore).  I love what they are doing right now.  Even the movies that I feel are perhaps “weaker” entries in the Universe are still above the quality of many other movies of competing franchises.  My mother said the movie was better than she expected it be based on the other Thor movies and my step-father laughed all the way through, and myself was at least amused through most of it, but sat up and took notice through the extended action sequences.  This was, while not my favorite Marvel movie, still one that I would gladly re-watch anytime.

Missing in Action: Why I’m Probably Not Going to See Avengers Infinity War in the Theaters

Stop Signs

So, remember a couple weeks back when I posted that sometimes life gives you “stop signs” and you just have to be cognizant of them and learn when to listen to them in order to stay sane.  I discussing it in the vein of writing, but it looks like it applies to other areas of life as well as it turns out that Avengers: Infinity War is one of those “stop signs” for me, at least when it comes to seeing it in the theaters.  Without going into a long essay on the matter, simply put, car problems is the ultimate reason why I’m not going–my car, which had always been so reliable, now has decided to gift me with an intermittent starting problem which happens to me, but not the mechanics.  Yeah, I know, right.  I get stuck and it won’t start and have to get it towed (twice now) and then they start it up with no problem and charge me for diagnosing it.

If there was a digital equivalent of a “scream” emoji, I would be using it right now.

Thor Ragnarok

Actually, I’m not really all that concerned about missing Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters.  My mother and I have already had some of the movie spoiled for us and I’ve even encountered a couple of more spoilers in the two weeks since it has been released (despite my care of limiting my social media use).  My local theater wasn’t showing it in 3D Imax anyway, just regular 2D Imax, and (most importantly, to me, anyway), we haven’t yet seen Thor Ragnarok.  I’m sure that it isn’t essential to TR before AIW, but we’ve pretty seen every mainline Marvel entry in order and their are some character changes to Thor (obviously) that occur in TR which seem to carry over to AIW.

While I have seen movies out of order, I much prefer to see them in order, if that is an option.

Memorial Day & Labor Day

If you are wondering, we’re planning on seeing Thor Ragnarok on Memorial Day.  For those outside of the US, that’s a big holiday that happens on the last Monday in May (this month, as I write this) that is the unofficial kickoff of the Summer Season here as most schools are either out for summer break at this time (or will be out in a week or two afterwards).  We’ll probably purchase it (as opposed to renting it) as a movie to watch after the holiday dinner).

I’m hopeful that AIW will be out on Bluray/Itunes by Labor Day–our complementary holiday that ends the summer.  If so, then we can bookend the summer with Marvel movies and catch-up.

I’m not going to stress over things I simply cannot control.  I’d like to see AIW, but since it doesn’t look like its going to happen for a while, and since I have no control of the situation at the moment, I might as well just wait patiently until circumstances work out and allow me to see the movie.

Sidney




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Potpourri May 2018

potpourri_wikihow

So this (short) post is just a little bit about everything that I’m currently doing right now.

  • Watching The Expanse: I’m not really feeling the show all that much, but I need a “spaceship” show at the moment to get me through Final Exam week and help me as I get my car repaired.  Will probably do a mini-review of it after I watch all the seasons (there are 3 total, but only seasons 1 & 2 are currently “free” on Streaming via Amazon Prime.
  • Project Poet (Rough Draft): Two-Thirds (⅔) way complete.  Not really happy with the way it is turning out, but then again, I guess that’s what rough drafts are for.  There’s no magic in this one, so it doesn’t really seem like a Fantasy story, but it is one that I really like the idea for.  I may have to find a way to add in a “magic system,” however, because it seems really slow and boring otherwise.
  • Recently Watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: I’m putting this one on the list to remind myself that I need to do a mini-review of this movie as I saw it about 2 weeks ago.  I didn’t much care for The Fifth Element (never actually managed to ever get through the whole movie), but I thought this might actually win me over.  Spoilers for the mini-review: it didn’t. 🙂
  • The trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp has just been released.  Now this is a Marvel movie that I think I can get behind this summer.  It looks really fun!  And best of all, NO SPOILERS ANYWHERE IN SIGHT!  🙂  🙂

 

  • Finished the OUTLINES for two (2) new Projects: Project Paradise and Project Independence:  I finished the plot outlines for two new stories.  Both are science-fiction stories that I’m really excited about writing over the summer.  More on these projects as when I finish the Rough Drafts for them.

Well, that’s all I have for right now as I need to work on finishing several small school-related projects.  Talk to you later!

Sidney




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Spoilers Redux

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Cast of Infinity War looking at the camera.  Image Source: YouTube

Avengers Infinity War Partially Spoiled for Me

So, my car wouldn’t start Saturday so I didn’t get to commute home as I have done every weekend since starting school.  Rather than let this defeat me–very demoralizing–I simply tried to distract myself through schoolwork, Netflix, and YouTube videos.  I was watching a video on the upcoming Spider-man video game published by Insomniac games (one of my favorite developers) and made the mistake of scrolling through the comment section to get a sense of what the gaming community thought of the game.  Right there in full view, with no warning or anything, some goofball posted a major spoiler about three characters in the movie.  I read the first two before my brain realized that it was a blatant spoiler (intentional, no less–no spoiler tag, no “spoilers,” nothing, just done to troll).  I stopped reading and didn’t see the third, but I reported the comment.  Yes, I reported it falsely–YouTube doesn’t have a report feature for “being a jack-behind,” so I reported it under commercialization.  Yeah, probably not kosher, but hey, if the poster hadn’t been such a twit, I’d have left his post alone.  It had 17 replies, probably angry responses to the spoilers, but when I reported it, it dropped off the comment section–but the damage was already done.

 Marketing through Fear of Spoilers

While it was ultimately the posters fault, I still partially fault the marketing of the movie for encouraging people to run out and see it before they were spoiled on it.  They got people into the seats and became the number one movie opening of all time by making this an “event” film, but in doing so, they created a culture where a “jack-behind” and troll out there would feel embolden, no invited, to see the movie first and then to create and post as many spoilers as possible in as many places as possible with the understanding that if you haven’t seen it yet (in the first weekend), then you “got what you deserved” if you were spoiled on the movie.  I’ve a report still to write and a Final Exam to take, so Disney and their marketing department really screwed the pooch for me.  My mother still wants to see it (although her desire was diminished once she discovered it wasn’t in Imax 3d), but mine is greatly diminished because of the spoilers and the way the movie was marketed and the release date changed.

It’s such a big topic that even the directors have asked fans to respect the movie-going experience:

Ah, well, its just a movie, right?   =/

Sidney




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