Monthly Archives: May 2012

Possible Story

Prologue:  Moore City, Ix.

Black leather shoes pounded along the cracked concrete, blinding red suns bearing down on the morning market street. The human men chased the small fish-like man down the bright corridor, blue-and-yellow bird’s cages crashing to the ground and smashing open, bright sun-like birds fleeing into the open sky, as the small fish-man stumbled into the stalls. Vendors screaming various languages, “Bastard!”; “Yxwadh!”; “Ed’sjk!”; words incomprehensible to human minds. The human men grabbed the blue fish-man and threw him to the floor of a dark, red-bricked alley.

The bigger man pressed the fish-man up against the wall.

“Where?” said the smaller man.

“Wdi’sk! Wdi’sk!” screamed the fish-man, desperately.

“Colonial. Or my partner will break you” said the smaller man.

“I do not knew!”

The bigger man snapped the fish-man’s finger. “Do not lie” said the smaller man.

“Is gone! Not on Ix!”

The small man took out his bronze pocket watch and wound it. “Do not lie. We stopped all outgoing ships. It is impossible for it to be off-planet.” He looked at the watch face. “We have plenty of time, Christopher. Call me when you’re done.” The small man straightened his tie and walked out of the alley, into the white-hot light.

“Fuckin’ Ixians. Youse fucks don’t know shit ‘bout lying.” Christopher held the Ixian up by his neck and drew his blade out from under his shabby cheap coat. Christopher pushed the knife into his arm and pried off dirty scales. “Tell me where it is.”

The blue Ixian screeched “Bar! On street-near-blue-river!”

Christopher grinned widely, “What blue river?” He stabbed the fish-man in his shoulder, blood coursing down and onto the dusty ground. “Nic wants this thing tonight, so which fucking river?”

Shapes on top of the crumbling, broken buildings moved, shadowy figures starkly outlined against the two red suns. An eroded block of stone that may have once been a grotesque fell down to the alley, smashing. Christopher looked around, dropping his bloody blade. The sound of leather boots against rusting metal fire escapes, twelve men in patchwork-leather armour climbed down to the alley.

Christopher panicked. He drew his grandfather’s pistol from the faded silver-lined holster his father gave to him when he became an enforcer.  He stole the pistol from his grandfather’s room at the nursing home after he forgot who Christopher was. He began firing wildly, hitting one of the men in the chest. He tumbled from the fire escape onto the hard ground, dead on impact. One of the men threw something. Christopher felt a searing pain in his chest; he looked down to see a red-hot stain in his shirt, billowing out from a filed, rusted iron knife. He slumped down, sliding against the wall. The leathered men surrounded him.

“Please, I don’t want to die yet,” he pleaded, “I’m only 34… Please! I’m only doing my job.” He broke into tears. He, a large, granite-faced man in a cheap cloth suit, was sobbing uncontrollably.

The 11 men walked past him and picked up the bleeding Ixian.

“Stand up, brother” said the largest of the men, a red ogre-man, almost certainly an alien. “What is your name?” he asked.

“192342”, replied the Ixian.

The ogre-man shook his head, “No, your broodname, brother!”

The Ixian looked up, “I is Aleostus.”

“I am Ushitora.” He gave his hand to Aleostus and helped him up to his feet. He turned to the other men, “Guthrie, bring Aleostus to our home.” A red-haired human helped Aleostus stand, “Let’s get you rested, bud!” he exclaimed cheerily.

Ushitora said “You’re one of us now, Brother Aleostus. Welcome to the War of Independence. The rest of you, head to this bar Brother Aleostus speaks of and wait for this ‘Nic’. He will most probably be along once he finds ‘Christopher’.”

As Guthrie helped Aleosus down the crowded market street, a sharp knock echoed through the alley and he knew then what he had been drafted into.

End Prologue.

 

I know this isn’t very good, but it’s a start. Lot of influences in this; Irish History, McCarthy, Orwell…

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On-Going Comic Books I Consider Good, Like.

The piece I originally had scheduled for today, a MIB3 review, fell through. Why? I overslept and missed the showing. Whoops. So as a last-minute replacement, comic books!

At the moment, my favourite on-goings are almost all New 52. I try to say that I’m not a DC fanboy, but, well, I suppose I am. So without further ado (fun word, that):

ANIMAL MAN (New 52)

Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man is very good. Great, even. It outclasses almost every book put out by DC at the moment, and every book by Marvel.

What Makes It Good?

The book is filled with high concept ideas, The Red is the means by which all animal life is interconnected, The Rot is the antithesis of this, Death personified, but the book doesn’t feel preposterous. This is testament to the humanity evident in Lemire’s writing. Another writer could too easily make the book overly serious, but Lemire manages to inject humour into every issue while not undermining the threat of The Rot. The Hunter’s Three are effective villains, and are genuinely terrifying and powerful.

Although Lemire’s writing is on a grand scale, but he also manages to write the small-scale events of Buddy Baker’s life. The day-to-day interactions between his family members and he are as completely realised as the universe threatening conflict between The Red and The Rot.

Travel Foreman’s, and from #9, Steve Pugh’s art conveys body horror and the concept of the red expertly. It’s “trippy”.

9/10

All-Star Western (New 52)

A fun (albeit adult) book that revels in DC history and explores the Victorian-era Gotham and the death of the Old West.

What Makes It Good?

It’s a pulpy comic book starring an ex-Confederate Soldier who happens to be a ruthless Bounty Hunter! It’s a ridiculous, though self-aware, adventure book that never takes itself too seriously, despite the grimness of the storylines. The action is solidly drawn and Hex makes an intriguing character, despite his irritating phonetic accent. Amadeus Arkham affords an amusing point-of-view character that is mostly ineffectual, but gives the series a comedic element to counter-point the darkness of Hex.

The book effortlessly creates the 19th Century DC Universe on its own, with its back-up story serving to introduce characters and build a believable world. The back-up stories do tend to be weaker than the main story, but they are still a good addition in an industry that (currently) mostly avoids back-ups.

The art for the main comic is great, Moritat solidly conveys violence and gives great characterisation in his art and his design is universally excellent. The art in the back-up ranges from unimpressive (the art for the current Nighthawk and Cinnamon story is serviceable yet uninspired) to fun and blocky (the art for the El Diablo story is a cross between Guy Davis and Jack Kirby).

8/10

BATWOMAN

Batwoman is a solid crime comic that incorporated magical elements, it is inspired but highly decompressed.

What Makes It Good?

Lots of things! Although, mainly the influence of J.H. Williams III. His writing is surprisingly fantastic, a great continuation from Rucka, and his incorporation of magical elements distinguishes this from the other Bat titles. The art for the first arc (Hydrology, issues #1-5) is some of the best of William’s career, almost as good as his work on Seven Soldiers #0 and equal to his work on Detective Comics #854-860. While, Reeder’s artwork is much weaker and almost cartoonish, it is still competent and only bad in comparison to the J.H. Williams, who I personally consider the best artist working in modern comics.

The series deserves praise for portraying a lesbian relationship that never feels cheap or exploitative. It feels like a genuine loving relationship, and Kate clearly shows regret over having to keep her life hidden. Kate and Maggie are written like any other couple and this works really well and is a positive sign for the future.

Warning, the comic declines in quality a little after the first arc, mostly due to the non-chronological aspects of the story. Williams is writing for the trade, not the single issue.

7/10

Ultimate Comics: All New Spider-Man

So many things could have went wrong here. Killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with a half-black, half-hispanic character could have been cheap and exploitative. Brian Michael Bendis’s writing, whose Avengers work is almost universally awful (excluding Civil War: The Confession), was a warning light for me.

However, I took a chance on it when the first trade came out. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was Brian Eno fantastic.

What Makes It Good? Bendis’s writing is surprisingly great. He genuinely loves the character of Miles Morales/Spider-Man and the lighter nature of this series, while touching on heavy themes (the homosexual subtext is strong, yet not overbearing) makes it a refreshing alternative to Post-OMD 616 Spider-Man. Characterisation is well-executed, with Miles becoming more confident in his role, his Uncle becoming a better defined villain, and his father becoming less sympathetic as the series continues. It’s a series about the difficulties of growing up, Miles has just hit puberty and is entering Middle School (I think, I don’t know how the American school system works) and the responsibility of being Spider-Man is effective symbolism for his growing responsibility in life.

The art is fun and cartoonish, but also really good at conveying little emotions and character moments. The series is a fun comic in an otherwise dreary sea of Marvel published works. It’s a definite recommendation for anyone who enjoys light-hearted works.

9/10

My To Watch List

This is my list of DVDs I own (and that I can find) that I haven’t watched. I will review some, but not all. I won’t bother reviewing films that have already been reviewed millions of times, that’s pointless, my views won’t be any different.

Highlander 2

Inglorious Bastards

La Horde

Hanna

Shallow Grave

Withnail & I Watched

Tyrannosaur (British drama. Nothing to do with dinosaurs.)

Submarine Watched and Reviewed!

Sweeney Todd

Behind Enemy Lines

Thin Red Line

Broken Arrow

The Marine

Man On Fire

Chinatown Watched

Man With A Movie Camera

Courage Under Fire

A Scanner Darkly

12 Rounds

Apocalypto

Red Road

Wasteland

Sin Nombre

Anything For Her Poetry

The Kids Are All Right

Beginners

The Bourne Movies

Windtalkers

MirrorMask

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (bought due to the presence of Tom Waits)

Casablanca

Bicycle Thieves

Regarding CCEA…

Fuck CCEA A2 exams this year.Absurdly hard this year, and not because of Absurdism. Absurdism didn’t come up. That would have been kind.

Spanish listening was about the G8 and politics, something not covered on the course.

English A2-1 was all right, not fantastic. Donne and religious feelings. Easily done, if you pardon the pun, although Rape metaphors are difficult to write about. The second section was a gift, partially because I quite enjoyed reading A Doll’s House (Ibsen), and partially because it was a straight forward question.

English A2-2 was about relevance to the 21st Century Reader, something we covered for one day at the start of the course as it came up last year and we didn’t think it would come up two years in a row due to the amount of complaints CCEA received last year about a similar question. At least the difficulty will bring standardisation for high grades down, the B (stop it with the damn puns, me) may be achievable.

History A2-1 was awful, a question about Soviet Consistency in regards to Aims. Probably the most difficult question that could have came up. The alternative was even worse, the motivation for Soviet Opposition was primarily defensive. It’s quite clearly not, and I’d learnt it as aggressive, so that essay was more or less impossible.

History A2-2 was also dreadful for the source questions. How far do the sources suggest that the Anglo-Irish truce was caused by political pressures placed on Britain, kill me please. The essay was thankfully great, how far is John Redmond responsible for the decline of the IPP between January 1914 to December 1918. He died in March 1918, so obviously not completely. Easily arguable.

At least it’s all over (for now). This isn’t a proper post, merely a rant, and a rather short one at that.

Submarine (UK 2010) Review

I saw Submarine last night.

Overview:

It’s a funny, albeit bizarre, romantic comedy that isn’t terribly romantic. Not a lot of plot going on, it’s more of a character study of Oliver Tate and his world. There are a lot of similarities to The Catcher In The Rye, but the movie deliberately acknowledges this, using symbolism from the book and outright discussing it at one point.
I’d recommend it if it weren’t for this site being predominantley American. It’s a very British movie and, unlike Shaun of the Dead, it wouldn’t translate well culturally. Lots of Briticisms.

Pros:

  • Intensely witty. Most of the comedy isn’t derived from antics or vulgarity, like American Pie, but from wordplay and the self importance of a teenage narration. The social awkwardness of Oliver makes for some hilarious scenes.

LLOYD “[Depression] feels like you’re underwater.”
OLIVER “Is that why you became a marine biologist?”

  • Well shot. It’s very aesthetically pleasing, evoking a sense of the 1980s effortlessly through visuals alone. The visual imagery tells us a lot about Oliver and Jordana’s relationship without explicitly stating anything. The scene in which they ride on a bike through a disused funfair with a firework attached to it (the bike) conveys the excitement and the eventual doom of their relationship.
  • Transition from humor to drama. It never feels unnatural, everything feels like it connects together. The comic moments fit perfectly with the dramatic e.g. SPOILER ALERT! Jordana’s mum having a brain tumor and her supposedly last Christmas dinner. END SPOILER ALERT! This shows Ayoade to be quite a skilful first time director.
  • Characterisation. We get a real sense who each of the main characters are. Oliver is socially awkward, cowardly and bordering on psychopathy; Jordana is directionless, self-destructive and hates romance; Chips is the sort of misogynistic teenage arse who inhabits every classroom… I’ll not spoil the others, but they all have hidden depths.
  • The Soundtrack. This is a case of love it or hate it. The score is by Arctic Monkeys’s Alex Turner and conveys the bittersweet nature of teenage life, but occassionally veers into twee. I personally like it, but I can understand if you hate it.

Cons:

  • The imagery occassionally borders on twee and/or amateurish, for example the “Super 8 footage of memory” and Oliver walking from the shallow end to the deep end of the swimming pool. Of course, this can be interpreted as Oliver’s narration being that of a teenager, but I felt it to be a flaw in an otherwise excellent film.
  • Graham. He just happens to be the weakest character in the film, though the performance is excellent and amusing, the script fails to explain his attractiveness adequately, bar for housewives who buy into VHS Philosophy. He comes off as unrealistic in an otherwise realistic film.
  • The Title Cards, while they worked for comedic parts of the movie and showed the hyperbolic viewpoint of Oliver, undermined some of the drama. This is, admittedly, a minor flaw, it’s a case of a tonal shift that doesn’t work once.

Overall Score:

8/10. A great movie, that could have been a classic if it weren’t for some minor flaws.

Petite bites? Pauvre Nancy

Ask a French guy

Image

A good example of a very bad use of French in an advertisement.

« Petite bite » in slang is « Small penis ». And she look so happy about it!

And Petite should be Petites (the plural form, silent s) if there are many bites.

Please, ask a French Guy (or a French Girl) if you want to use French in an Ad. It will save you from being the laughing-stock of the day on the French social networks.

Pascal pauvre Nancy Forget

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Okay schedule slippage

Some schedule slipping of the major variety there. The good news is that regular updates will start on the Saturday 26th May 2012. At least one post every two weeks.
Not that anyone will read them.