this old place

I have nothing to post about but I'm still around...sort of :P

See, because he was Mordred! Mordred!

So I went to see Ender's Game on the night it was released. I wasn't planning to, because, you know, Orson Scott Card is to be vilified. But then I read some editorial-type things that reminded me that in the scale of things, my boycotting the movie wouldn't actually hurt Cardface, but might negatively impact things I could care about (like the film's success' possible contribution to the expansion of action roles for girls and young women in Hollywood - at least that's the only thing I remember). Also, it'd been a dreary Friday, and when I saw Eli Glassner and Reshmi Nair talking about it on CBC News, I just wanted in.

It was...not bad, really. I mean it cuts out huge swathes of what made the book so amazing to me back when I read it that one time. It compresses the timeline, so you don't get the full wonder of Ender's emotional development and varied experiences. The whole Peter and Valentine subplot disappears, which of course helps the movie but makes the story much less complex and therefore less interesting. And the ending...felt rushed. I swear I had more thoughts about it, and about the framing of the "Formics" over all (my ears were pricked for "Buggers" and they're almost still aching from the extended stretch because that term was used no more than twice if that) - but I forget what they are.

Maybe it was just that they radically simplified the backstory about the invasions and so on, which neatly helped them omit the related Earthly politics and history - sort of changed the character of what the Formic threat really was. But it works, actually. A necessary narrative choice executed to efficient effect. The simplified version of the movie works because of the properly simplified backstory. But you don't get as much of a sense of the Buggers really being a problem.

All this being said, it's been near on a decade since I read and loved the Ender and Shadow series (oh how I want to pluralize with "serieses" but the internet tells me that is incorrect) so....I really don't remember a lot of it. And I really didn't have a lot invested in the movie, either.

The one thing I consciously hoped for was some really good zero-g battle game scenes. And there were indeed some pretty good - distinctly less than really good, mind - scenes. I'd always had trouble visualizing those scenes, and the closest I could get to picturing them always involved setting them in a version of elementary/middle school gymansiums I have known; the movie, of course, sets them against a fantastically techy, suggestively futuristic (except not, man - most of that looked like it could be done today) backdrop featuring a lot of chrome and glass and giant windows onto the stars. In other words, so much black and silver that I couldn't quite understand what I was seeing and wished for some homely laminate-wood beige and plastic-ball bright red or blue. So the scenes kind of hurt my eyes, but were pretty good in terms of showing the fighting and tactics.

Anyway it was a good enough movie that I didn't viscerally regret the ticket price, concession over charging, and lost time to potentially do other stuff. Ringing endorsement much?!

Also the real wonder was when I got home and looked up Asa Butterfield and learned that ENDER IS MORDRED. Which, just, amazing. Verb not needed.

HPDH2 thoughts

So I just got back from seeing the last Harry Potter movie. I'd never gone to a midnight release before; it just didn't seem important. But something about it being the *last* one, and I suppose a combination of opportunity and availability, made me want to do it this time. So I went. Alas I only got to the theatre an hour and a half early -- I was delayed with glitches in my fannish t-shirt making process -- and so we were at the back of the line and all the good seats were taken when they finally opened the door. "Only" an hour and a half. Have I made my sarcasm apparent enough?

rambling spoilery thoughts, because I feel compelled to share. not sarcastic, though!Collapse )

watching things

Just watched The Social Network. Thought it was a good story; definitely got wrapped up in it. Perhaps I should say good story-telling? I was pretty much instantly sympathetic to Zuckerberg-the-character, and was nonplussed when early on a (justly) irritated date called him an asshole. To me he came off like many other socially-awkward and highly intelligent guys; self-involved, sure, but not in an arrogant way. Fell immediately for Saverin, too, both because I think Andrew Garfield's attractive and 'cause you could tell right away what an impossible position he'd be thrown into. It was interesting to see later in the film the power dynamic between them, in several instances of Saverin-the-character acting with poor judgment because of how he felt about Zuckerberg. Found it very easy to pin all the blame for bad-doing (aside from the degree of human flawedness I am easily empathetic towards) on Sean Parker's character, though I was probably primed for that in reviews I read back when the film came out. I could've sworn I read a review that compared his portrayal to Mephistopheles. Then we read Doctor Faustus in class, so I got a full idea of what that reference meant. Watching for it in the film, I was disappointed, 'cause I didn't think it fit. But on reflection I realise that it's a good comparison, just not a direct parallel. Sorkin's cameo was so incongruous! I'll admit I didn't realise it was him in the moment, but I really felt like he didn't fit the image of average-business-manager-type. At least, not the way(s) they come from central casting ;P. The ending was kind of graceful, but it felt incomplete. Which makes sense, 'cause this is really a story-in-progress. Or so I tell myself, vaguely imagining what a future biopic might look like, and how it might incorporate mention of this film...'cause that's how my mind works.

Speaking of biopics, except not really - watched Country Strong a few weeks ago. And it was mostly a lot better, more watchable than I thought it'd be, because I am a fan of melodrama. It's maybe a mood thing, though; I can easily imagine being seriously impatient with some of the characters' behaviour otherwise. Ummmm the ending absolutely broke my heart and I did not like it one little bit. But it worked within the story, and a happier ending would certainly have been cliche and insipid.

Watched The King's Speech around then too. Enjoyed it muchly, but found it felt strangely light. I mean, there's some pretty serious context there. But it was such a feel-good film...its tone never got heavy enough to override that. It felt more like a vignette than a full-bodied film - or maybe more precisely, like a cropped picture, or a film clip. Just, that sense of being only part of the story. I guess that was kind of the point; it's a micro-story, always part of a larger narrative but worth focussing on for a bit.

Speaking of royals, more or less. Yes, I did watch the royal wedding. I had the luxury of not having to go to work or classes that day. Loved the dress; during the run-up there were many documentaries broadcast featuring clips from the Queen's wedding, and after seeing her lovely (and intense) veil I was predicting that the dress would involve lace, more from personal preference to see it than anything else. And it did and I was unnecessarily triumphant. I thought the whole thing was grand without being overdone, but I don't know how much that's worth since I was watching on television so very far away.

Umm more films I've watched recently. The Sorceror's Apprentice was amusing and not what I was expecting but everything you would probably have expected from the ad campaign when it first came out. As my sister noted, it was obvious how much it was "meant for" boys. I read somewhere that the approach to Tangled was meant to heighten its appeal for boys, too, and that was easy to see in the film. I was impressed that they managed to blend in a good dose of the princessy-ness that's supposed to appeal to little girls, too. Some really scary bits in there with the foster mother, and some fun action-adventure. The latter quite balanced the sweetness of the rest.

Oh hey, watched the election results coming in too. Coming up on a week tomorrow. It felt so odd that the whole thing was pretty much done and declared in two hours, especially considering how significant of a change it was. I was not hoping for a Conservative majority, to say the least. And the craziness of FPTP never felt so bad to me, until I had to realise how very firmly I'm in the 60% of voters who didn't choose this government. Aack. I'm actually pleased to see the success of the NDP, mostly because it's always nice to see the success of the little-guy or the dark-horse or whatever condescending term is preferred to describe the people most were counting out. It's historic and it's something I wanted to see. I find it really bizarre and quite ominous that it picked up 50 seats in Quebec - it cannot be good for the country that Quebec voted so differently from everybody else. Which might be silly to say considering how they've been doing that since the BQ first appeared on the scene, but it's a lot easier to see now that they decided to pick from the parties that played nationwide. I do hope the BQ stays down and disappears. I don't think by any means that that would be sufficient to really bring Quebec back into the fold, but it's been a formidable obstacle to rehabilitating federalism and for that I'm glad it's seeming to crumble. Oh, and I suppose in the immediate term it is a good thing for the country that Quebec voted in so many dippers - we seem to have the conditions for a strong and energetic opposition just based on the size of the NDP caucus.

As for the Liberals. I am still quite a partisan for them. And I've been hearing a lot of awesome, really resonant ideas in the various post-mortems that have featured Liberals talking about Liberals ;). I don't think we're out of the game at all; the key now is to actually do some rejuvenating and not stay shocked that the unthinkable is now reality. I agree that this has been a long time coming, and am hoping that the party takes it as a serious wake up call since it missed its chances to fix these problems when the message was milder. I think one thing that was done really badly - because it irritated me so much - was Ignatieff saying early and often that it was between the Libs and the Cons and the NDP would never have a chance. That idiocy about doors! There's nothing like a leader saying that it's between him and the other guy and no one else can ever form government to, umm, instantly raise lots of hackles.

One other thing that really got to me during the campaign was how badly everyone handled the coalition issue. I really hope we never again have a Prime Minister who chooses rhetoric that so disrespects the system, or opposition leaders who can't find it within themselves to state unequivocally how it's meant to work. I actually think it might be exciting to have a coalition government, because it'd help dissolve the stranglehold of party discipline. But I guess that's all on the shelf for now; four years of a Conservative majority is hardly the most likely time to expect innovative changes...!

Writer's Block: Open book test

Based on the books on your bookshelf, what conclusions would people draw about you?

That I am either really pretentious or really scholarly. That I am sentimental (Nancy Drew, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Archie comics take up more than their fair share of shelf space). That I attempt to have librarian-ish tendencies. That I do like popular fiction and am positively devoted to Georgette Heyer (this last mostly due to the $1 finds I picked up last week :). That I sometimes read in French (which I don't, those books are nearly untouched).

Seriously, I don't own most of the books I've liked or loved, let alone read. Anybody looking at my bookshelves would be easily distracted by the random junk I have littered around the books, which I don't think say very much about me at all because they're mostly not deliberate acquisitions.

brought to you by an excess of enthusiasm

Am possibly going to a Harry Potter costume party. In...more than five weeks, but it's a lot more fun to think about than the other things I have to think about. I am sad because it would be way a lot of work and require way a lot of the kind of imagination I don't readily have to go as one of the cool characters. Meaning the ones I like, or that are totally odd ball/extreme/ridiculous. So that means that to make life easy, I should go as a South Asian type character. Which means either Padma or Parvati NEITHER OF WHOM I CARE ANYTHING ABOUT. I mean, it'll be a good reason to finally finish that Gryffindor scarf I started in grade 10, or an excuse to make a Ravenclaw one. BUT IT'S NOT FUN.

Hermione and Luna are taken. I am not y-chromosome'd, or Roman-nosed, enough to pull off Snape (though how I do adore him) (also not exactly the image I want to project in this group of people new to me). Don't want to be a Quidditch player. Would prefer to leave the Malfoys to the natural blonds. Bellatrix is taken, too, and I sure hope the girl who picked her does justice to the potentiality there, seriously. Umbridge-esque I could probably do but again, wrong image. Rita Skeeter I wouldn't want to do, and she's taken anyway.

What this really boils down to is reason to lament the lack of South Asian type characters in Harry Potter (or to lament my imagination, but nevermind). But actually I don't much care. I just need to get over myself and find a fun way to be Padma (because Parvati sends the wrong image, too)...right.

Oh no right what this really actually boils down to (I do not like this phrase and yet so apt it is and gaaah) is that I wish my costume were harder than throwing on a sparkly kameez and some gold earrings and blue bangles and calling myself a witch. OH maybe I will make a wand.

And maybe I will get back to the things I'm supposed to be doing, like collecting receipts for insurance reimbursements. Hah.

Am I enough of a hardcore fan to go for Libatius Borage (treacherous textbook author) or Bathsheba Babbling (Ancient Runes professor)? I don't know. I guess I'll have to ask myself again in November....

In other news, depression makes you do weird things. Like wanting other people not to think about you, and changing your Facebook settings so people don't wish you happy birthday. I thought I was just being, I don't know, some kind of modest. Silly. But that was a year and more ago. Progress.


Fanfiction: Do you love it or hate it, or are you totally indifferent? Why?

Ahaha. Love, love, love, considering that I've just been reading some (my initial reactions to anything canon-related to Snape, or Hermione, or Snape and Hermione, have been utttterly flooded out by the dizzying variations on better backstory available ummm all over the place). And also considering that it has been my first go-to activity for free-time since ummm last summer. Well, before then too, it goes in phases. Sure, there's a lot (a lot) of dreck, but there's all kinds of impressive to be found, too. And sometimes I just need dreck. I can't think of what is more sublimely escapist than alternate universe renditions of fictional universes.

Ahhh I am...wait what is the word for one who plays with words for their own sake, without due regard to their import? Yeah, that. Also unemployed. So it goes.

(ps sophisticated-tv-consumer!fail -- what very little I've watched of TBBT has utterly failed to captivate me.)

(pps for a more erudite and interesting (and combative, yes) explanation of the appeal and legitimacy of fanfiction, I recommend especially this rebuttal to Diana Gabaldon's recent musings against it.)
I joined a gym. It was partially impulsive, partially long intended. I went to a combination tai chi-pilates-yoga class. It did not occur to me until mid-way through that it was kind of like elementary school gym class. The associated memories were unpleasant, but I persisted. And was pleasantly surprised and somewhat incredulous when I actually had muscle soreness the next day. I mention this because I'm thinking that expressing it to all and sundry might actually make me believe it more, because wow was that all so unlike me. But in a shatteringly good way.

I should have been reading other stuff, but on Saturday I started reading Tolstoy on Shakespeare, and then left that off for Orwell on Tolstoy on Shakespeare. And probably the thrill that runs through me on just the linkage of names is sycophantic and deplorable. But try as I might I don't care about that. Unmooring myself from unconsciously internalized norms of admiration doesn't seem like a worthy project. Probably because it's hard. Gah.

Tolstoy was evangelistic in his approach and therefore myopic in his appraisal (he thought Shakespeare was not even an average author, and his enduring popularity a plot by the Germans). This was my tentative conclusion before reading Orwell, and doing so just confirmed it. I am a bit disappointed in myself that a day later, I do not having anything coherent to say about Orwell. Just that his words are delicious glass candy. And this from someone who thought 1984 overhyped and Animal Farm excellent but not genius.

But then probably my underlying fervor for Shakespeare tells the whole story. Whatever he was or wasn't, I cannot but find his words enrapturing.

The curious thing about studying literature is that it is simultaneously self-indulgently cerebral and achingly visceral. It's all in one's head but its source is still the outside world. Mostly the inside of someone else's head in the outside world, but still. And it is silly of me to try to generalize this, when it's really just an attempt to reconcile how I can enjoy it so much when so often it is unconnected to anything but itself. Mmm...blee.

milling art

So I've watched three movies in quick succession recently, which is unusual for me. My movie consumption tends to average out at less than one per month. I figure so anomalous an occurence deserves some commemoration. Plus I have lots of trouble coming up with LJ fodder these days, so.

My Life in Ruins was fairly entertaining, but didn't do anything innovative with the basic romantic comedy formula. Which is fine, because it also didn't do the formula badly. The title had me hoping for something grander, but its relevance was pretty trite in the end. I guess, overall, a bit of a letdown, but only because I had built up high hopes for it months ago on the strength of...nothing. I'd call it comfort-viewing. The equivalent of a midrange women's fiction novel, like Time Off for Good Behaviour by Lani Diane Rich which I mention because I read it recently and felt pretty much the same way about it. Uh huh.

The Time Traveller's Wife was not all that compelling in terms of plot and characters -- it all felt kind of sketched out and underdeveloped. But I suppose that's par for the course with adaptations. It was nice to watch, though. Because of...vividness in the sets.

Alice in Wonderland in 3D was also a bit of a letdown because of airily high expectations. I mean, it was fun, and a visual feast, but I walked away thinking, "Well, that was distinctly not awesome." I didn't want to watch it in 3D but we got to the theatre a bit too late for regular showing. I didn't really notice most of the 3D stuff, but that says more about me than about the film. I was happily surprised that the Red Queen didn't overremind me of Bellatrix Lestrange, that Alice was not insipid (but alas, not particularly spirited either), and that the Tweedles weren't very obnoxious. There were some weird Alice/Hatter vibes that I'm not sure how I feel about. On the one hand, I've been a fan of the curiousinsane comic for awhile, and thus amenable to the idea of them as a couple. On the other hand, Burton/Depp's Hatter is part mad, part tragic, part infantile, so it seems very wrong to pair him with anyone.

So, yeah. And for school I'm supposed to be reading Tess of the D'Ubervilles. And I guess I'm maybe a bit more sympathetic to Hardy and his artistic concerns, having benefitted from a specialist lecturer, but...I really am not finding it much easier going than I found Jude the Obscure two years ago. I just want to chuck it to the wall and declare that Hardy Is Just Not For Me. But that's hardly the way to develop a critical sensibility, and so I'm intending to plod on. Intending.

Next up (for another class, natch) is Anna Karenina. I don't do well with infidelity stories either, soooooo...umm, more intent to plod. Gyah.


Garment care may be the death of me. A mundane and necessary task, yet almost labrynthine in nature, if you have clothes with different laundry instructions, and if you care about following them. I am only just now starting to care, and very much against my will. But it can't be helped; buying my own clothes makes it a lot harder to be indifferent to their rate of deterioration.

Every text we've read in 19th century Russian Literature so far has cast the female characters in flat, instrumental roles, with undertones of prostitution in different senses. It's the only thing I can think to write about for the essay that's due next week, but it seems too damned obvious to be worth devoting six pages to.

I have discovered an entirely unexpected love for post-modern poetry, thanks to my Canadian Literature survey class. Well, actually, an entirely unexpected love for poetry, period, considering how much fun I had dissecting the stuff we did last term. I didn't think I had it in me, this appreciation for the maddeningly, convoluted subtle.

I don't think that last sentence made sense but I have to get back to my formidable laundry so I'll not try to figure out how to improve it. Yes.